Syml – Dim EP
When Brian Fennell released his self-titled debut record under the moniker SYML in 2019, it was by no means the adventure of a new artist – Fennell has an extensive CV, with his previous ensemble, Barcelona, producing several albums during their time at Universal, and a full roster of production and songwriting credits.
The shift to solo work did signal a new direction, however, and a fresh individual style marked by contemplative, grounded lyricism and near-ambient soundscapes. While the tracks released on 2020’s EP You Knew It Was Me, especially, carry the catchiness and staying power of a pop song, SYML has no need for formulaic structure or clichéd imagery. On latest EP Dim, Fennell has benefited from the input of talented producers Paul Meany (Twenty One Pilots) and Joe Visciano (recently SZA, Doja Cat), creating a cohesive project that explores loss, grief, love and the emotional oscillations of being alone.
If this sounds like a lot to cover in a five-track EP, the persuasive vocals of lead single True convey something of the simultaneous broadness and specificity of the record: Fennell delivers shifting tones, moods, voices and phases, encapsulating a number of conflicting perspectives in just a few minutes and – crucially – leaving out the ones that shouldn’t be voiced yet. Each of these songs is marked by a painful rawness in its lyrics. “I lay next to myself / Breathing slow” opens Dim, while Stay Close coaxes the emotional and the physical into a literal collision: “You’re more than my heart / You’re my blood”.
Elsewhere, the soft, persistent percussion of Stay Close is picked up and refuelled into layered drum machines and muted guitar sounds on Black Teeth, while Yes and Know leaves the spotlight on Fennell’s vocals, comfortably confirming his talent as performer as well as producer. SYML is also the Welsh word for “simple”, but simplicity this effective can take just as much work to create as busier styles of music – Fennell and his collaborators have succeeded in cutting through the noise to produce an intimate, thoughtful EP that invites undivided attention.
Dim EP is released on 16th April 2021. For further information or to order the album visit SYML’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Stay Close here: