Photo: Linda Pitmon / ANTI- Records

The Dream Syndicate – “Black Light” (Singles Going Steady)

The Dream Syndicate lures us in with that twangy guitar and mischievous keyboard line, but the purposefully off-tempo vocals on "Black Light" derail the dream.

Mick Jacobs: The Dream Syndicate lures me in with that twangy guitar and mischievous keyboard line, but the purposefully off-tempo vocals derail the dream. It’s really a shame because this had the potential get weird in the vein Phèdre’s “Aphrodite”. If it were, “Black Light” would be less clubby and more Western, but now I want to hear a Western tale told through electronica. [6/10]

Mike Schiller: The classic goth-tinged “Black Light” is a fine return for the Dream Syndicate, a band suddenly making up for lost time with another new album from their reunited lineup. It certainly has its roots in the band’s ’80s heyday, existing somewhere in between early R.E.M. and Love and Rockets, though it’s also a fine candidate for modern rock radio given its proximity to, say, recent-day Death Cab for Cutie records. Despite its ability to sound like many different bands at once, however, “Black Light” has a mysterious vibe all its own. It’s not setting the world on fire, exactly, but it’s an incredibly listenable song that isn’t prone to get old by the time May’s album release rolls around. [8/10]

Jordan Blum: I’ve definitely heard of this band many times; I may have even reviewed something of theirs. I can’t remember and going by this video/track; I’m not surprised. The David-Lynch-on-ecstasy nightmarish visuals appeal for a bit, but they mostly make me wish I were watching “Ich Bin Ein Auslander” by Pop Will Eat Itself instead. The music is similarly interesting at first but ultimately monotonous. There’s something cool about both components on the surface, but neither go anywhere. I think they’d both work better in the background of a party, or if you’re so inclined, LSD drip. While totally sober and focused? Not so much. [5/10]

Chris Ingalls: With everything ’80s being cool again, it was only a matter of time for the indie sub-genre known as Paisley Underground to get its props again in the 21st century. The Dream Syndicate have actually been back together since 2012, and while they’re not exactly setting the world on fire, the music they’re making now is still fresh and compelling. The music of “Black Light” has a somewhat hypnotic, nearly krautrock feel and Steve Wynn’s speak-singing gives the song a somewhat foreboding feel. The Dream Syndicate certainly don’t seem to be doing a “phoning in the nostalgia” thing here, which is good, considering the band’s ample talents. [7/10]

Rod Waterman: I guess I have never recovered from the perfection that was Days of Wine and Roses, but this song doesn’t seem to go anywhere, not even back to those aforementioned heady days, and what’s more doesn’t seem to really enjoy very much not going there. It just feels like it’s always starting, like an engine always either idling or merely wheezing along in first gear. It just never really finds its stride. My capsule summary of both the song and the video would be that perhaps they didn’t quite have enough to dream last night, and/or that the drugs just weren’t working. One might consider, in such locales where this is a possibility, going to the “dispensary” and asking for a refund if this were what one had come up with as a result of one’s most recent purchase. As someone once very wittily yelled at a particularly boring live show (not by the Dream Syndicate, I hasten to add), this one needed “more caffeine in the monitor”. Also, why are we still talking about black lights? [4/10]

John Garratt: “Black Light” has the endearing mark of a song that doesn’t try too hard. You know, the kind of song that sounds like that Dream Syndicate threw together in one afternoon and we’re all the better for the lack of effort. Despite this, “Black Light” still comes up feeling empty, like the band felt that an approximation of trippy goth was sufficient enough. Maybe there’s something to be said for effort in minimalist pop. [6/10]

Steve Horowitz: An interesting mission to an alternate state of consciousness, but there is something missing here. The energy seems too much like gravity pulling one back more than a force that propels one forward. The instrumentation suggests something holy and spiritual but in a superficial way. The vocals explain more than excite. The song has its charms but seems to have higher ambitions than just being charming. [6/10]