SYML: SYML review – Between darkness and light

US artist Brian Fennell embraces his Welsh roots to battle his inner demons

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Artist: SYML
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Nettwerk

SYML, pronounced “simmel”, is the Welsh for simple, and Brian Fennell’s debut album is anything but. Adopted as a child, the singer-songwriter from Issaquah, Washington (and former frontman of indie band Barcelona) discovered that his biological parents are Welsh, fuelling his curiosity about identity.

Swinging between sensitive pop-rock songs destined for the charts, such as the punchy and empathic Break Free, and experimental electronic songs, he lays out all the elements of his life that define him.

In a constant battle between darkness and light, Fennell uses the positives that surround him, like his family and friends, and uses their influence – good and bad – as a driving force to become a better person.

Opening track Clear Eyes is an upbeat ode to his wife and her ability to let go of the past. With a melody taken from the Killers songbook of hopeful romanticism, there’s an immediacy to its appeal. WDWGILY, however, is the highlight. “Where do we go, I love you”, he repeats over layers of static, glitching vocals and looping piano samples.


Nothing good ever comes easy and, on his debut, Fennell deconstructs the hardships that have granted him simplicity.