Dateline: Friday, January 6, 2006
THE SYN "Syndestructible" Umbrello Records
By Pamela Murray Winters
THE SCREEN WORLD has Spinal Tap and "Still Crazy's" Strange Fruit: British bands from the days of leather fringe and transit vans that reunited in wrinkly-but-willing middle age. The Syn is the real thing.
Chris Squire was its bassist before he moved on to found Yes, and lead vocalist Stephen Nardelli lived the dream of Tap's Nigel Tufnel: He became a clothing retailer. Nearly 40 years later, the two have teamed with keyboardist Gerard Johnson, guitarist Paul Stacey and drummer Jeremy Stacey in a new version of the Syn, and it's at least as credible as its cinematic counterparts.
True, 40 years have rendered its sound less than surprising. Like many "reborn" bands, the Syn keeps to a sound from days gone by but with a certain clarity and sobriety. "Syndestructible," the group's new release, offers a prog-on-a-budget feel, compact and efficient. Not that the members are averse to a little bombast: On the mini-opera "City of Dreams," which is not so much Yes as "maybe," a slightly hoarse Nardelli sees fit to remind us that "we are all members of the human race," just before the song's reprise kicks in. And "Cathedral of Love," a high-minded tribute to holy redemption via nookie, doesn't spare the chorus of "aaahs." But "Golden Age" blues-rocks through its mythological allusions -- with cowbell and what sounds like banjo -- enough to make you think that these guys don't care if their audience half-expects to see them emerging from giant pods.
Appearing Monday at the Birchmere.