How To Be and The Execution were both recorded during the sessions for the group’s 2018 album, Beauty in the Tension.
One of the things that has always helped add unique character to each new album from The Olympic Symphonium is the group’s willingness to explore atmospheric sounds as a way to create new worlds for their folk based songwriting to occupy. Whether it’s through some combination of their core instrumentation or employing new ideas like electronic textures (Dead Man’s Inn | More In Sorrow Than In Anger | 2008), a wash of cymbals and reverb-heavy vocals (Crowded House | The City Won’t Have Time To Fight | 2010), or a foreboding orchestral growl like the one that sets the tone for Careful taken from the group’s last album, Beauty in the Tension (2018), finding harmony in contrast plays an important role in the music they create.
This characteristic takes a defining role on Beauty in the B-Sides, a pair of previously unreleased songs recorded at Old Confidence Lodge in 2017 during sessions for Beauty. Out today on Forward Music Group, B-Sides should help appease fans of the group who have not heard new music from Nick Cobham, Kyle Cunjak, Dennis Goodwin, and Graeme Walker in a little over four years.
There are no major surprises here. Beauty in the B-Sides is exactly what fans of The Olympic Symphonium have come to expect from the group. Two near-perfect songs, drenched in honest and relatable emotion, sung by the group’s leading voices, Nick Cobham and Graeme Walker.
How To Be, sung by Cobham, is a down-tempo ballad that could have found a home on any of the group’s past recordings. Unexpected chord progressions, ambiguous lyrics and a cry-along chorus that builds into a comfortable, cloudy embrace. This one is classic OS, true and through.
The Execution introduces a few new elements to the band’s repertoire. Building in search of resolve, Walker’s words stretch over echoed phrases and layed strings as if literally attempting to conjure the tension mentioned in the title of the group’s last album for which this track was originally recorded.
“The Execution is a song loosely based on the idea of being an advocate for yourself,” explains Walker. “Life can be full of challenges and surprises and sometimes being proud and celebrating small successes can be a good coping mechanism. The seed for this song was planted a long long time ago. I had some lyrics, and a progression I liked but didn’t really see an obvious form for a complete song. A lovely evening spent at the Old Confidence Lodge allowed us the time to experiment with some new rhythmic ideas and stacks of guitarmonies, and voila!”
Beauty in the B-Sides is out today on Forward Music Group.