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CD Reviews:  Smash Mouth: Smash Mouth

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Smash Mouth's dirty little secret is that they're actually a very good pop band. If that wasn't immediately obvious on their debut, 1997's ska-heavy Fush Yu Mang (though that album did have one groovy party song in the form of "Walking on the Sun"), it was certainly apparent on 1999's Astro Lounge, which was one of the better pop records released that year. They may play the fool, but don't let them kid you: these guys are in it for the long haul. And Smash Mouth, their third record, will certainly help their cause. It may not be a masterpiece but it's better than anyone had a right to expect it to be. 

They waste no time getting things cooking with "Holiday in My Head," trademark Smash Mouth beach blanket bingo pop. "She Turns Me On" is another "Sun"-style raver, and "Sister Psychic" is this album's "All Star," for better or worse. It's a surefire hit single (don't ask me why they released the disco-tinged "Pacific Coast Party" first), though it clearly has the potential to get tiresome quickly. There are some more experimental moments on Smash Mouth as well, some better than others. "Shoes 'n Hats" is notable in that it reproduces the Robert John "Mutt" Lange sound of vintage AC/DC with uncanny accuracy. My favorite bit is "Keep it Down," which starts with a simple drum machine and builds into an acid synth-washed jam that owes more to the Propellerheads than anything Smash Mouth's radio hits would suggest. On the other hand, there's the aforementioned "Pacific Coast Party," with a disco shuffle that sounds awkward (it's also one of the few tunes not written by guitarist Greg Camp), and "Your Man" seems like it was rushed in the mixdown process. Such aberrations are forgivable, though, when "Out of Sight," a gorgeous ballad and one of the best songs they've ever done, is nearby, not to mention their obligatory 1960s cover, which in this case is "I'm a Believer" from the movie "Shrek." 

Even if chart success eludes them from here on, Smash Mouth has cemented its place in the current rock scene as the party band du jour. And there is nothing wrong with that -- just ask the B-52's. However, if they're more interested in being a relevant, respected band, they should phase out the '60s romps and start finding their own voice. In either case, they'll be printing money on the corporate party circuit 10 years from now, and thanks to Smash Mouth, they'll have more than just a hit single or two in their set list. Cheers. 

~David Medsker : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

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