The best albums are the ones that challenge you the most and, for the past month, Pet Symmetry’s Vision has truly been a challenge for me.
It’s not that I didn’t like it, or that it needed to grow on me. It’s that there’s quite a bit to unpack, despite the fact that the album is only 11 songs and 30 minutes long. I’ve started and re-started this review more times than I care to admit, because each listen through left me with more to say than I knew what to do with.
Though it’s a quick listen, Vision never once feels short or stunted, or like there might be something missing. On the contrary, Pet Symmetry’s songs feel complete in what is often an unusually brief amount of time.
The band excels at crafting songs that sound busy at first but are clearly quite deliberate when you give them a little more attention. Each track boasts layer upon layer of melodies, which allow you to focus on something new each time they play through a track. For example, in “Hall Monitor” they utilize these terrifically buzzing guitars that hum with energy and momentum. Listen again and dig a little bit deeper – you’ll begin to notice the cozy bass melody that grounds the song’s fast-paced and anxious percussion.
Or take “You & Me & Mt. Hood,” which boasts a light-hearted, more whimsical mood. While the main melody of the song is carried by along by a jazzy bass riff, it’s the bright synth that steals the spotlight as time goes on.
Beyond developing complexity within the limited time frame of each song, Pet Symmetry succeeds in creating depth over the course of the album as a whole. Rather than getting bogged down by one sound or style, Vision seamlessly flows from one mood into another and back. “St. John” packs a punch after the flowy and mellow “Blue Bottle;” not long after, the static-y wailing of “Eyesores” gives way to the soothingly quiet and stripped down “Mostly Water.”
The back-and-forth is never forced; it never seems unnatural. And it keeps listeners on their toes throughout the album. As someone who’s always enjoyed sitting with an album and picking apart the various elements that make it tick, it seems I may have finally met my match. But although Vision takes more time than most to digest, it’s definitely worth the effort.