Symmetry, Ryan Lewis - S/T
Owain Paciuszko 01/08/2010
Opening with the funky hip-hop-pop of Back In Business that seems to mix an old 60s Western soundtrack with grabs from Ride On Time, it's a lively ride that gets this album off to a pretty good start, even though at times the rapping makes it sound a bit like a lost 5ive track. Nevertheless, there's a lot thrown into the musical mix, a neat electirc guitar breakdown and a cacophony of retro samples lending a somewhat tongue-in-cheek mix to proceedings.
Similarly Down begins with a fanfare before turning into a very Gnarls Barkley-like Circus stomp, unfortunately Symmetry's lyrics don't have the classical feeling of Cee-Lo Green's. Feel Right gets the mix better, pitching its sleazier swagger against lyrics that role out like an endless list of little grievances, and a backing choir on the choruses to balance the chirpier MGMT-like synth lines. Unfortunately, from its squeaky opening sample into its lazy instrumentation and annoying lyrics ('I want to be a rock star, not nothing like you.'), School Days is a pretty lame affair that even a Mariachi-meets-Vangelis breakdown can't save.
The press notes suggest that Symmetry and Ryan Lewis 'have created a fantastic pastische of classic hip-hop, soul, indie, rock & pop', but whilst Make Me Yours sounds occasionally like The Avalanches in its choice of backing samples, the rest of it sounds like the worst kind of boy band debut imaginable, and if it is in fact a clevely disguised irony then the disguise is way too good! Fireflies has a better sound, laidback processed beats, a doppler of bassy synth and a light flute over the chorus.
On Your Toes begins like the reveal of the villain in the original Batman TV show before becoming a pacy, jazzy number with flavours of Cab Calloway in its instrumentation, but the rapping, again, is an unwelcome distraction. The chorus of 'It's just me and you and the moon tonight.' is nice lyrically, but winds up sounding like an outtake from Crazy Town's Butterfly. Meanwhile Cuttin' Out sound almost exactly like Santana's Smooth with a beat thrown in. There's a certain elegance to closing track Pardon Me, but not enough meat on the bones, you spend the whole time waiting for it to take flight only for it to start fading out.
There are positives to this record, generally in the arrangment of tracks, but it sounds like a record that would always stand, impatiently on the outskirts of appreciation, wondering why it's not allowed inside the borders. There's a great deal of fun to be had on a number of tracks, especially at the album's outset, but things falter as the record stumbles towards its close. At the end of the LP the burden of the poor tracks weighs things down too heavily, and it's hard to take a positive overview of the entire record, there are a couple of good tunes here, but not enough to really recommend the whole 32 minnutes.