From South California to the world: summer – and other seasons – of law that keeps people together and opens new possibilities for progressive rock.
Three years after their debut, “Power” – which seems to have set a pattern for this ensemble’s one-word-defined concepts – SIN carry on exploring various aspects of human psyche, and “Love” is an impressive development of this approach. There’s a riveting, if flawed, confection of an album, a candidate for repetitive spins. With female voice almost removed from the band’s equation, keyboard player Steve Rogers and bassist Kurt Barabas share vocal load and reinforce their instrumental surface by inviting Mike Keneally, Trey Gunn, Gregg Bissonette and a couple more guests who flesh out what essentially is pop tunes and turn it into prog, “The Ties That Bind” encompassing all these within a single delicately rocking track.
Starting with a season-centered suite to stress the eternal, and natural, cycle of affection, the group go for a certain grandiosity yet they tone it down thanks to many a dynamic nuance which will chase the initial sadness away. That’s what warms up “Winter” for an earworm chorus to kick in, before the piano chords of “Spring” intensify this cinematic panorama and the breezy brass licks behind “Summer” make the song’s silky flow feel real hot, while the psychedelic drones of “Autumn” render its drama less drastic than the piece’s pseudo-orchestral throb may suggest. Still, the cello-charmed elegy in “The Thin Line” is palpable, and when, mid-number, the tempo shifts to rapturous groove and the arrangement transforms from chamber to effervescent, the effect can be staggering.
But this is what needs to prepare one’s soul for delving into the understated epic of “Beautiful Delusion”: deliberately dimmed to gradually release its radiance and marry twanging strings to stately ivories and then pass a patch of march to a funky urgency and folksy sensibility. Elsewhere, the smoldering “Ashes” linger on to reveal the full scope of this sonic tapestry and slowly burn the mind, so once the rhythm gains velocity, there’s a point of no return. Of course, the undiluted infectiousness of “Find Our Way Back” isn’t far away from here, yet the solemn “Amazing Grace” offers a much calmer, blissful finale to let the listener leave in peace.
As for the aforementioned flaws… There might be nothing new to say about romance but, balancing out the multitude of musical details on display, the album’s lyrics err towards platitudes; as a result, it’s only melodies that one will cling to in the long run. And this ensemble’s run had better be long because they’re good.