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.
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