Even though it only contains four tracks, there’s quite a lot of different ideas and influences at play on Symptoms Of The Human Being, the debut EP from Manchester based Pleiades. Post-hardcore, post-rock, and even a few hints of indie rock come to the fore at different times across the EP, but despite the varied sound this results in, there’s a thematic consistency and sense of identity that ties the record together. It’s an emotive listen, and though it’s not as heavy or intense as most music I listen to, there’s still a lot here I found to like.
Opener “Ambience Surrounding Lazarus” is a strong start. There’s a bit of a blue-collar punk feel to it (think Hot Water Music), maybe a bit of later Against Me!, with the opening moments having a sense of spikiness that combines well with the driving melody and sung vocals. The later half of the song moves in more ambitious directions at points, with the movement around the 2:40 mark equal parts At The Drive-In post-hardcore and post-rock. Second track “Only Second Cousin” builds upon that idea with some soft, sweet melodies, adding in some pop sensibilities to the song-writing – the music is accessible and open (and, to be clear, that’s intended as a compliment), though it also has depth. The lyrics are especially obtuse, though whether this is a plus or not is dependent upon the listener – personally, I’m a fan of this approach.
The later half of Symptoms Of The Human Being bring the post-rock aspects of Pleiades to the fore, with longer songs, a greater sense of dynamics and tension, and a more cinematic approach. Post-hardcore elements are never too far away though, and the songs never become too ethereal or sparse. The build-ups that lead to moments of catharsis are handled well, and when the band explode as the tension reaches its height, the effect is moving and emotional. There’s still some rough edges to be worked out though, most notably on closer “Living With Familiar Machines”, which feels as if it’s coming to its conclusion with several minutes still left, making the song feel longer than it otherwise should do.
Symptoms Of The Human Being is still an impressive release though, with a confidence and conviction that belies the fact that it’s the debut release from the young band (they only played their first gig in October this year). There’s a lot of potential here, and with some of the nous and knowledge that can only come from experience, Pleiades could conceivably create something very special. In the meantime though, you could do far worse than to give Symptoms Of The Human Being a listen if you’re after something emotional, ambitious, yet still with moments of catchy song-writing.