Sybris

Into the Trees

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Defiantly lo-fi and beholden to the past, by rights Sybris should slot neatly within the current crop of such retro acts as the Hold Steady. But even though they exhibit the same nervous energy and juttery rhythms, the Chicago quartet are just as enthralled with the early indie scene as the post-punk era. And the differences don't stop there, for Sybris' signature is their misty atmospheres, evoking the likes of Ride and Slowdive. Into the Trees is wrapped in them, a gauzy veil that blankets every track within, even "Old Tyme E" and "Saint Veronica," the brightest songs on the set. The former has a svelte '60s feel, all excited beats and bouncy guitars, the latter glides from a dreamy pop feel into a hard rock segment, then soars heavenward on a sea of chimes and drones. That post-punk drone is prominent throughout the set-diving "Safety City," "Something About a Dark Horse or Whatever," and "Gin Divides Us." At times, "The Mary"'s a good example, the guitars aren't actually droning, they just sound that way thanks to the band's profligate use of reverb. On that number Sybris play off the drone against lilting guitar riffs, a juxtaposition that also defines their sound. "Mary" has more than a touch of New Order about it, elsewhere the Cure, U2, and Siouxsie & the Banshees play an inspirational role, as does the art-rock scene. The latter is particularly evident in the jumpy rhythms of "Burnout Babies" and "Gin Divides Us." There again, even the band's most downtempo numbers have a nervousness around the rhythms and a tension to the auras, a jittery feel that vocalist Angela Mullenhour feeds. Varyingly fragile, tough, sweet, dreamy, and caterwauling, she is the bastard child of Björk and Siouxsie Sioux, more tuneful than the former, more childlike than the latter, her clear tones sweeping and soaring over this set. From lullabies to indie rockers, gloomy goth rockers to bright poppers, Into the Trees takes one deep into a forest of aural delights.

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