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  • Sammie Starr

EP Review: Serj Tankian - 'Perplex Cities'

System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian brings about another new EP experience that is both beautifully restrained and cinematically engaging with Perplex Cities.



Serj Tankian has always been known for his creative and dissonant range in the rock industry throughout the years with the band System of a Down, consistently testing the boundaries with its guitar soundscapes, compelling lyrical narratives, and gorgeous production values. When Tankian broke away creatively to make something different with his 2021 EP, Elasticity, Tankian showed off another side to his creative genius that was melodically unique, thoughtful, and highly evocative. Serj is back with his new EP experience, Perplex Cities, and he's back with a more atmospherically denuded and kaleidoscopic approach to his sound than ever before.


"The Race" keeps things stripped down while still possessing an imposing philharmonic presence. The sounds are rich vocally but still have a dissonant opera-like quality as it ascends with its acoustic guitars, powerfully charged synths, and percussive cadence.

Perplex Cities goes beyond the instrumental scope of anything we have experienced before with Tankian, as we are submerged in something more instrumentally complex than hard-rock aesthetics. Perplex Cities feels more tenebrous and cinematic, and it becomes apparent with the first impression, "Pop Imperialism." "The Race" keeps things stripped down while still possessing an imposing philharmonic presence. The sounds are rich vocally but still have a dissonant opera-like quality as it ascends with its acoustic guitars, powerfully charged synths, and percussive cadence.

The cinematic tension continues to unfold with the third track, "I Spoke Up," a moment on the EP that is just as hued lyrically as it is instrumentally. Tankian has never been one to shy away from talking about his cultural roots or how dominance and strife often come together as one experience, "I Spoke Up" is one of those powerfully raw moments on the EP that do just that.

The EP detaches again for a more familial vibe and restrained piano experience, "Rumi Loves His Cars," as it dives into a more touching juncture about his son and the need for a more quality way of life before finishing things off with a finale, "Forgive me Father." A track that is energetic and lively, the track feels very connected instrumentally to that of System of a Down, yet is still personal to this EP experience alone.

Perplex Cities is an EP that is distinct and feels different in a good way. This is Serj Tankian personally distancing himself from anything and everything else, and just being himself as an artist to create something unorthodox and compelling, and it's beautifully showcased in these little musical vignettes he breathes life into every so often.



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