REVIEW: Washington artist SYML releases gripping, self-titled debut album

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 14: Brian Fennell aka SYML performs onstage during Pandora SXSW 2018 on March 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Pandora)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 14: Brian Fennell aka SYML performs onstage during Pandora SXSW 2018 on March 14, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Pandora)

Brian Fennell, the artist behind SYML, released his debut self-titled album "SYML" Friday through Nettwerk Records.

The work on the album stays true to the mellow sound of his previous released singles and EPs. His voice holds an attribute that's deeply haunting and lyrics that are incredibly vulnerable.

The name SYML stems from the Welsh word "simmel," which means simple. Fennell was adopted and had no knowledge of his Welsh heritage until he turned 18.

The Washington native was previously part of the indie band Barcelona. He began to get recognition after his song "Where's My Love" was featured on the popular MTV show "Teen Wolf."

After the album was released, SYML shared the following statement on Facebook:

"My debut record is out everywhere. These songs are no longer mine and I am so proud to give them to you. More than anything, this album is about the common threads and mysteries that connect us. There is curiosity in the dark and beauty in the broken. SYML is now yours."

The album opens with the more upbeat "Clean Eyes," which is in contrast to the more grim vibe the rest of the album carries with it. The album seamlessly slides into the next song, "Wildfire," and Fennell exhibits extraordinary vocal skills suited for his style of music.

"Sometimes we break so beautiful / And you know you're not the only one / I breathe you in so sweet and powerful / Like a wildfire burning up inside my lungs"

"Bed" is an ambient piece with a steady beat that's easy for the listener to get lost in. "Bed" bleeds into "Where's My Love," Fennell's most popular song. His gentle voice and honest lyrics work smoothly together to create something illustrious.

The following track on the album, "Break Free," brings the tempo up but still holds grim undertones.

"Keep it simple, honey, don't think too much / You know we don't care what you believe / I'm just a closeted misogynist in love with myself / Don't be mad, it's everything you could dream (Exactly what you think)"

The passionate piece leads into the hypnotic "Animal." Fennell's dynamic sound utilizes ambient vibes to create a unique sound, noted in the next song, "The Bird." The piece features especially haunting vocals and healing tones.

"Girl" is an honest and emotional piece that shares truth about life and love.

"Girl you'll see the world and you'll come to learn / That falling in love is a strange work of art / All of your battles will shape who you are / And know that your scars are my favorite part / I want you to know this"

The ever-haunting "WDWGILY" features the phrase "Where did we go? I love you" layered amid the sound of rain crashing onto the ground. The electronic vibes are tied to an immense sorrow expressed in the moving song. As Fennell's voice comes into frame, the song takes on an only deeper expression.

Fennell's flawless and hypnotic sound makes this album one worth listening to. It's available in its entirety below.

Listen to "SYML" below:

Full track list:

  • "Clean Eyes"
  • "Wildfire"
  • "Bed"
  • "Where's My Love"
  • "Break Free"
  • "Animal"
  • "The Bird"
  • "Girl"
  • "Connor"
  • "Everything All At Once"
  • "Before You Knew It Was Me"

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