The Olympic Symphonium, New Brunswick’s champions of chamber pop, have released Beauty in the Tension, their fifth studio. Leaning into their strengths, the band remind us that not every album needs to be Appetite for Destruction (and to be fair, even at the very most, only one album does).
There’s a genre-defying gentleness that ties Beauty in the Tension together. It is the overriding sound of The Olympic Symphonium. It’s like tea: certainly warm, comforting, and innocuous, almost universally liked, but impossible to pinpoint why.
In fact, there’s a good chance the band may have laid out their mission statement in the album’s opening track, “Coat of Arms,” “There’s beauty in questions, We don’t have to give it all away.”
The band claim that the solitude of rural isolation played a large part in the albums creation. They holed themselves up for six day at the Old Confidence Lodge studio in Riverport, Nova Scotia with engineer Deigo Medina, and in that resounding silence they crafted a whisper.
Drawing inspirations from Pink Floyd and Chicago, and soaked them in a warm bath. What we’re left with is something that doesn’t demand you lean into to it, but invites you to momentarily submerge yourself. Tracks like “Glory of Love” sounds like they might have been translated from honkytonk hits into a dulcet ballad. “Thanks A Lot” could have been an indie rock smash. “Comedy” stands out as the likeliest candidate as a strong contribution from Symphonium’s Grand Theft Bus bandmates, Graham Walker and Dennis Goodwin.
Every track on Beauty in the Tension, however, is performed with such a relaxed delivery that the idea of defining it is almost futile. It’s unquestionably enjoyable and best taken as a whole, because it’s as much an emotion, or an experience, as it is an album. It sneaks up on you, lulls you in, and glides along.
So sip your tea, but be sure to set aside plenty of quiet time for it.