The Symptoms
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The Symptoms

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Indie


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The Symptoms @ Middle East Upstairs

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge, MA



Contrasts is five baroque compositions slowly crumbling apart to reveal the bits of ideas constructed to make the whole. No doubt these songs will divide people into two camps: those that think The Symptoms have trouble figuring out their sound and those who think The Symptoms have their sound down pat.This EP is a statement against the standard ABABB song structure the band grew sick of replicating. Instead of verse-chorus-verse listeners are treated to lyrical repetition, variation on musical themes and subtle genre touches throughout. Thunderous percussion breaks free from piano-led peace in "Seeing in the Dark," and the idea that two approaches to music, controlled composition and sudden noise, can exist together and even simultaneously is repeated during Contrasts' run.

The quietly weird "Hiding Out" shows he Symptoms' softer side, creating gentle humming and soft electronic layers that freely float through Jim O'Rourke-inspired ambiance. "April," the most imaginative cut, uses interesting, offbeat rhythm to counteract the downtempo beats. The song has a grey color to it, like it was recorded during a misty morning, but the weirdo sound effects, like choking robots, that become prominent toward the end of the song disrupt the mood. In fact, The Symptoms greatest strength lies in their ability to create mood and then surprise the listener with a well-placed ill-timed musical function. "Seeing in the Dark" plays a trick on the listener at the very end; the piano set-up that mirrors "Seeing in the Dark" suddenly gives way to depressurized drumming that brings the song to a close.

Meditative but not without malice, Contrasts is a sharp intake of breath for experimental indie music. Sometimes the songs release slowly, sometimes they blow out but they don't let you forget you're listening to what cannot be considered a standard rock album. - The Equal Ground

Boston Trio, The Symptoms, hit the nail on the head with the sound of their latest EP “Contrasts.” These guys write some smart and melancholy music, repeating a simple idea until the tiniest change smacks you in ear. “Contrasts,” the Bands sophomore effort, raises the bar for this trio. They have definitely started to settle into their sound, with tracks full of ambient ear candy, odd overlapping meters, and despondent vocals. Every track on “Contrasts” is repetitive on the micro scale, but “through-composed,” meaning they ditch all that pesky verse-chorus-verse non-sense. Kudos to The Symptoms for living up to the term experimental, without going too far off the deep-end. That’s an impressive task. Check them out on Facebook. – Paul Jordan Talbo - The Deli

Allston based indie band THE SYMPTOMS first embedded themselves in my playlist last summer with the release of the experimental trip-pop gem "Don't Leave." Around that time, the band's principal songwriters Ben Berners-Lee, Drew Smith, and James Fraser left behind their Lexington High origins and relocated to the glorious pastures of Allston, planting the seeds of a new, more cerebral sound with their The World & Its Mistress EP.

Now the Symptoms return with a new follow-up EP, Contrasts,, recorded in an Allston bedroom over a six-month period that sandwiched their inclusion in January's Class of 2013 Best New Bands feature in the since-departed Boston Phoenix.

"It was born from a set of seven basic sketches named in chronology (first, second, etc.)," says Fraser. "The chronological numbering is marked on the back album-cover... lyrically the album focuses largely on the idea of loneliness -- also time spent in solitude, solipsism, and hiding."

The EP's first single, "All In All (Alone)," is a textured, disaffected ballad that sets the tone for the rest of Contrasts, which will be in full live display Tuesday, May 14, when the Symptoms release the EP at Great Scott in Allston. The video above, proudly premiered by Vanyaland, shows a series of collage-like images that reflect the mental trip of the Symptoms' sound, and stark outlook of much of their music. - Vanyaland: A Music Blog



The Symptoms are a four-piece experimental pop band. Their last EP, Contrasts explores ambient textures and patterns. They recently completed their first full-length LP which blends gritty post-rock guitar tones with danceable rhythms and wide-open synths. 

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