“Writing about the Swiss quintet Serafyn and their new EP “”Quantum Leap”” – which comes out in about a month – is the kind of thing that admittedly sits at the very fringe of our coverage area, as the band is hardly rock, more so a calm kind of chamber folk. The EP offers seven tracks based primarily on finger-picked acoustic guitar and subtle drumming, which provides the foundation for delicate female singing juxtaposed with cello and double bass arrangements. Groups like The Staves and Pebaluna come to mind as apt comparisons, yet the defining quality with Serafyn figures to be the very short and precise notes which trickle down like raindrops from the guitar and the lead vocals. It is a point of discussion though, whether it is actually worth it for the group to stand out in this particular way.
Out of the seven songs on the EP, the most striking cuts are the title track and the single “”Go Down North””. The former stands out by showcasing an approach that gives more room for the cellos to show the band’s harmonious qualities at their strongest, and the way the cello notes stretch and segue seamlessly into each other puts in contrast just how measured and cut off the lead vocals are. It makes you wish the group would do a bit more with their voices, which they show that they can in “”Go Down North””, where the choral harmonies come in beautifully to add extra warmth in the refrain and provide good setup for the cellos. In songs like the opening duo “”The Netherlands”” and “”Far From Reason”” however, you initially observe the expertly arranged melodies, but then risk getting a bit bored because the backing vocals and cellos are used a bit too predictably. In the former the bows only touch the cellos in the bridge, which feels late, and the simple back and forth between lead singing and cellos in “”Far From Reason”” only makes the calmly rollicking tempo feel repetitive more than engaging.
In fairness, “”Quantum Leap”” is a cool listen regardless of your take on this argument, because the tasteful cello sound and the harmonious, “”less is more”” arrangements are soothing and appealing at face value. Considering the potential for enjoyment in the relatively unusual band constellation though, it would be a shame to not at least bring up these issues in the songwriting. In their better songs, the group prove that they can do wondrous little things when singing together and when having a more inspired sense of progression in their songwriting, and some occasional longer notes from the vocals could perhaps also give more contrast. So working to develop those aspects of their sound more would be a suggestion for Serafyn to perhaps consider moving forward. Meanwhile, readers who simply appreciate the precision of laid-back, tender harmonies can still find something to enjoy already here.”