Symphuddie Releases New Record

It’s a new era for the indie singer/songwriters who power the underground, and it’s bringing out the experimental side in seemingly everyone – for the best, I might add. Symphuddie returns to the headlines this January with a new set of instrumental vocal-driven songs in Back from the Brink that takes the concepts of his influences in reggae, jazz, and pop music and nudges them into a modern look that is anything but trend-savvy or aligned with another movement in the underground today.

Back from the Brink is fearlessly rebellious, taking indulgent cues from across the underground and melding them with exotic harmonies in the likes of “This Fuse You Lit,” “Now That We Are Here,” and the stirring “Step Out and Fall in This Love,” each of which feels a little harder to categorize with any degree of standard labeling. Symphuddie is sounding ahead of the curve, hinting at an ambition that a lot of his contemporaries just can’t seem to keep up with, but from where I sit I think it should be said that never before this record’s arrival did he make a point of experimenting with the parameters of his aesthetic as much as he did for this recent offering. He’s all-in on the eclecticism of surreal pop through a reggae lens, but going about making it in a way that contrasts with the typical in his genre starkly.

The duality within Back from the Brink starts and ends with the lyrical content, and from the moment we get into the opening cut here onward, there’s scarcely an instance in which Symphuddie’s singing isn’t haunting the backdrop with a sincere lust for escape. Songs like the instrumental cuts of “Once Bitten Twice Shy” and “The Rhythm of Life” feature brawny elements not because of a desire on his part to include excess here, but as a genuine ladder to climb from this place of complete confinement in which we find the record’s poetic protagonist living early on in the latter, vocal-adorned half of the tracklist. We witness the struggle, the affirmation, and the catharsis that comes with release closer “This Fuse You Lit” and “Now That We Are Here,” and because of how well-mixed everything here is, we’re never robbed of a stitch of sonic integrity, no matter how intricate or finely-tuned it happens to be.

Symphuddie’s under-the-radar status has made him all the more removed from the commerciality of pop music, and even though he’s yet to receive the recognition a career like his is due, he’s playing like his life depends on it in Back from the Brink and presenting audiences with one of the most significant releases of his discography thus far. Back from the Brink doesn’t pose answers; it asks more questions of Symphuddie, who is more than happy to oblige with a sneak preview of what could become a very exciting segment of his later professional life. This is one of the more interesting stories of his scene coming into focus right now, and I’m very curious to see where it goes next.

Chadwick Easton


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