Lymbyc Systym: Symbolyst
Western Vinyl

Three years in the making, Symbolyst is a terrific new collection of music by the brothers Bell. Michael and Jared, who have been playing together for more than twenty years, serve up ten melodic instrumentals on their third full-length, most of which defy easy categorization. They're not quite pop or rock (they more inhabit a middle ground between the two), certainly not techno or house (though enticingly rhythmic), and, while prog-like, eschew long-windedness for concision (only one cracks the five-minute mark).

The brothers aren't catholic about sound sources, either, as they draw upon acoustic and electronic sounds as called for by the material. Live drumming and programming sit comfortably side-by-side, and the hook-filled tunes are enlivened by luscious arrangements teeming with analog synthesizers, electric pianos, and the occasional presence of a sweetly singing violin (courtesy, presumably, of Slow Six leader Christopher Tignor). Above all else, the group's high-energy songs are richly melodic and as such instantly accessible.

A fabulously exuberant and effervescent opener, “Prairie School” jumpstarts the album with a hefty stutter-funk groove, soulful Rhodes riff, and blazing analog synthesizers, with all of it adding up to four minutes of deliciously radiant music. The following “Falconer” makes good on that initial promise with three soaring minutes of violin and synthesizer counterpoint. Some tunes are infused with a soulful funkiness that renders them all the more appealing (e.g., “Eyes Forward”), and while “In Transit,” like much of the album, is suffused with an uplifting spirit, “Downtime,” “Falling Together,” and “Wave” demonstrate that the Bells are as adept at crafting melancholy and dramatic set-pieces as they are uplifting ones.

No, Symbolyst (the title a reference to the nineteenth-century movement in art, literature, and music) won't move mountains, nor will it unlock the secrets of the universe. What it will do is provide you with a thoroughly pleasurable thirty-nine minutes of music and make life eminently more liveable while doing so. The album incontrovertibly proves that Lymbyc Systym's a band whose music deserves to be heard far and wide.

October 2012