Billy Sherwood / Chris Squire


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Chris Squire and multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood worked together in Yes and World Trade, so the decision to collaborate on Conspiracy isn't unexpected. While the packaging is pretty disappointing (Purple Pyramid should have spent a few more green pyramids to spruce this up), the production is clean and professional. There are a handful of moments that recall Yes -- Alan White even makes a couple of cameos -- notably on "The More We Live," which first appeared on Union, and "Violet Purple Rose," which would have felt at home on Drama. And the pairing of Squire's voice with the higher registered Sherwood is a match that clearly invites comparison to that band. Honestly, though, the songs remind one more of XTC circa Oranges and Lemons: bouncy basslines, Beatlesque melodies, ringing guitars, and steady backbeats from Jay Schellan (another World Trade alumnus). Squire and Sherwood aren't as subversive as all that, but "You're the Reason" and "Light in My Life" are awfully catchy in spots. While the material is generally good, it fits a certain formula: slightly bittersweet melodies, familiar instrumentation from track to track, a shared moodiness. Judged on their own, songs like "Red Light Ahead" are certainly enjoyable; taken in toto, Conspiracy becomes a baker's dozen of the same donut. If you enjoyed the poppier moments of Big Generator ("Shoot High Aim Low," "Almost Like Love"), this disc is a good bet to please. As a bonus, three hidden tracks are featured at the end: versions of "Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon" from Open Your Eyes, and "Say Goodbye" from Euphoria.

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