Pet Symmetry

Vision

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When they first appeared in 2013, Pet Symmetry were pitched as something of a lark for bandmates Evan Thomas Weiss, Erik Czaja, and Marcus Nuccio: a lighthearted offshoot of their more intense emo projects Into It. Over It. and Dowsing. The three friends wore matching Hawaiian shirts on-stage and injected their tuneful pop-punk songwriting with silly puns and tongue-in-cheek references, offering something more disarming than discordant. After a handful of small-scale singles, EPs, and one full-length release, the former side project seems to have found its footing and developed into a more multi-faceted entity. Returning with their surprisingly robust follow-up, Vision, the Chicago trio take a slightly more serious, though wholly appealing turn, feeling like anything but a side project. Landing with a satisfying heft, Vision is a streamlined affair brimming with vitality, subtle details, and undercurrents of the playful humor that originally launched the band. As far as openers go, the dynamic "Everyone If Anyone" is a tough one to beat, with its heavy melodic might and neatly crafted arrangement prone to smart left turns. Lead single "Stare Collection" is no slouch either, its rallying cry for the casually downtrodden following up the vanguard. The album's production is bold, focusing largely on Pet Symmetry's appeal as a classic power trio but with occasional keyboard flourishes and thickly delivered harmonies. Uptempo for the most part, they do offer a few breathers with the excellent "You & Me & Mt. Hood" and the acoustic ballad "Mostly Water," showing a bit of range in the process. While the performances are strong and confident throughout, what really anchors Vision is the high quality of its material as Pet Symmetry come into their own on this sophomore set.

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