Back in 2007, UCSB-born, L.A.-bred art rockers the Deadly Syndrome released the well received—and undeniably earnest—The Ortolan via Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records. Now newly independent, the four-piece is back and tighter than ever on sophomore release Nolens Volens, which finds the band trading in their grandiose sonic tendencies for something a little more understated. Two tracks in, “Doesn’t Matter” presents a great example of said restraint: delicate, lullaby-like pianos flirt with lead singer Christopher Richard’s “ohs” and “ahhs” before building to a flash-in-the-pan of layered harmonies and drum and cymbal noise. Elsewhere, “Wingwalker” dishes up a dizzyingly catchy guitar riff (courtesy of Santa Ynez’s own William Etling), while “Good Morning” makes for an endearing minute-and-a-half respite of accordion-fueled folk. At its close, “Heresy” provides a surprisingly poignant mix of Casio synth, distorted guitar effects, and drum machine loops to Volens‘s otherwise lyrically-driven package. By virtue, it plays out like the artsy big brother to The Ortolan’s cheeky, Nintendo noise-filled ender, signaling a growth that’s both articulate and delightfully refreshing.


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