Some of you may recall I sorta reviewed CS Luxem about a year ago, but had to tap out due to a migraine. I always felt bad because, while I’m sure few people know of my existence, I felt like I shorted folks. I found out he released a new album in February and wanted to check it out. Some of the stuff I noticed that night definitely come out here, but no one came here for a recap of an incomplete review. I certainly got brought more lucidity (hyuk!) to what was otherwise lost in brain fog.
CS Luxem knows how to fuse together styles like ambient, doo-wop, and avant garde and pair it with the surreal and surfer elements. This is most apparent in “Goat Ghost”, “Feed the Dog”, “Space”, and “Heal Support”. It’s refreshing to see something so ambitious that is, for the most part, effectively pulled off with deft. Admittedly it still reminds me of bands like 10 CC and The B-52’s as they were both avant garde in their own ways and pulled it off just as well.
At times, though, the hodge podge of creativity gets problematic as certain elements vie for dominance and the basic elements suffer. This is most apparent when whimsical seems to take priority. One of the worst offenders is “Own Way” where more focus is placed on percussion and being odd that it has no substance. At times, though, it seems as if lacking substance is the point, but then I hear songs like “Hot Corn Girl” where the echo effect overpowers the vocals and– while I suspect the drowning out of lyrics is intentional –sacrifices the lyrics so the listener is left missing out on what should be just as considered just as important if it’s included in a song. It is most apparent when part of the lyrics seemingly allude to myths about Persephone and the Corn Maiden, but can’t be fully made out due to a wall of echo. What is there is left an incomplete idea that sounds interesting but loses effectiveness as a song.
Then again, lyrics may not be a real concern for CS Luxem, as I found most of the songs lacking in this part. Songs like “Let Me Go On” and “Space” clearly have lyrics, though it feels like they aren’t complete ideas expressed in the songs and we’re to focus on everything but what the vocalist sings. If that is the intent I have to question why lyrics exist and aren’t instrumentals, as quite a few songs would be enhanced without them. At times, though, the songs strike a balance with whimsy, sincerity, and lyrical content. Songs like “Spider Webs” and “Symptoms” really present the more sincere approach to lyrics that seem to dance with the song and express a full idea before succumbing to the oddity.
Despite seemingly torching my copy of the album I feel there is much to enjoy from Symptoms. While at times it lacked sincerity CS Luxem promises an experience where the listener can lose oneself in the juxtaposition of avant garde stylings with deceptively mundane rock.