Call it a comeback, or simply a reunion long overdue. Nearly 30 years after calling it a day, The Dream Syndicate, one the uncontested leader of L.A.‘s so-called paisley underground, are back in business, still procuring the cosmic cacophony that typified their seminal stance in the otherwise unobtrusive ‘80s. With the core of the original band still intact — specifically two of the band’s original mainstays, Steve Wynn and Dennis Duck — and with later recruits Mark Walton and Jason Victor in tow, the band’s newly minted, aptly dubbed album, How Did I Find Myself Here? sounds something like a flashback, all frenzy, feedback and propulsive rhythms, just the sort of sonic accompaniment that’s best suited to some acid-fueled reflection, or, maybe even better, some belated tripping down memory lane.
While those susceptible to the tug of nostalgia might find How Did I Find Myself Here? close to past perfect, the album makes a convincing case for the need for cosmic meditation, even in today’s tedious circumstances. While songs such as “Filter Me Through You,” “Out of My Head” and “The Circle” soar more on frenzy rather than finesse, “Like Mary” and “Kendra’s Dream” (named, no doubt, for original member Kendra Smith) provide some respite, bringing to mind a woozy mix of Pink Floyd and Modern English complete with hallucinogenic additives. Granted, the arrangements can seem rather murky at times, and the premise rather pointless, particularly on the lengthy jam that melds into the title track, but when it comes to pure atmospheric entertainment, The Dream Syndicate psychedelic sensibilities remain clearly intact.
One could debate whether or not The Dream Syndicate’s sound still resonates well in a world where concerns are considerably more grounded now than ever before, where there’s little time or inclination for musings of this more celestial sort. On the other hand, that’s what makes this album seem curiously quaint in its concept, and decidedly out of time. The title says it all, but it’s best left to the listener to weigh in on the appropriate response.