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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Wynn Shows He Has a Firm Grip on Past

July 26, 1996|SARA SCRIBNER

Steve Wynn revisited his garage-psychedelia roots on Wednesday at LunaPark, from his shaggy, medium-length haircut and plush jacket to his Lou Reed-like vocals and his Byrds-inspired guitar riffs.

But sometimes holding on too tightly to the past--in Wynn's case, his days with the Dream Syndicate, the brooding stars of the local "Paisley Underground" movement in the early '80s--can make it look as if you don't have a future.

Wynn's choice of the Boston band Come to play on his new album, "Melting in the Dark," seemed like a move in the right direction. The album's garage-pop is dipped in Come's dungeon-dirty sound for an occasionally interesting effect. At LunaPark, though, he was backed by a group of competent musicians that had a hard time pushing the songs beyond their retro roots. So "The Way You Punish Me," a self-flagellation that sounds wryly heart-wrenching on the record, felt like a lightweight goof.

Still, Wynn has mastered his particular brand of mid-tempo sounds, and he made "Shelley's Blues, Pt. 2" drift effortlessly from a sly bass boogie to "ba-da-da-da-da" choruses.

Unfortunately, every musical high (the 14-year-old "The Days of Wine and Roses" or the new "Why") was sapped by an impossibly long guitar solo, a silence held 10 beats beyond anyone's tolerance level or a good lyric driven into mediocrity by repetition. The lows drove Wynn's obvious musical passions into one long and winding trip backward.

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