CD Review of Smoking Kills by The DiSCiPLiNES
The DiSCiPLiNES: Smoking Kills
Recommended if you like
Mott the Hoople, The Replacements, Flamin’ Groovies
Label
Second Motion
The DiSCiPLiNES:
Smoking Kills

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

F
or a young band, a boost from a big name can be of immeasurable value, implying an endorsement at its very least or a long-term commitment at its very most. Still, it seems somewhat curious to find the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow tag-teaming with this band of up and coming Norwegians, especially in light of the fact that other than their enthusiasm, there would seem very little to bind the two parties together. Stringfellow’s repertoire has been lined with adventurous and illuminating outfits – in addition to the aforementioned Posies, he’s also done stints with R.E.M., Big Star, and Minus Five – but here he seems somewhat out of place, caught awkwardly in a generational squeeze, the celebrated veteran giving in to the brash ambitions exerted by a bunch of young upstarts. In some sense, Stringfellow might be best advised to act his age – not his chronological progression, mind you, but rather the era with which he’s associated, specifically the ‘70s and ‘80s when power pop placed equal emphasis on both the power and the pop and ensured melody was as much a factor as any mayhem.

That said, Smoking Kills isn’t a half bad record, and while the band may eschew any attitudinal adjustment implied by their name – and disavow any cautionary inclinations suggested by the album title – one can’t help but admire the adolescent exuberance and intensity that ricochets through this effort overall. Stringfellow’s co-conspirators are expatriates of an earlier group called Briskeby, and if there was any suspicion they’re out to ride Stringfellow’s well-garnished coattails in order to substantiate their standing, it’s all but dispelled after an initial listen. Rather, they assert themselves with a decidedly edgy attitude, chock full of youthful indulgence and aggressive energy. The unbridled outpour continues unabated, igniting each entry with an effusive aggression that spills over the top with all-out abandon. "Falling Knives" channels the manic appeal of the early Kinks, while "I Got Tired" recalls a primal Stones. So too, songs like "Yours for the Taking" and "Shadow of Your Doubt" are oddly addictive, and that despite any suggestion about a supposed lack of discipline, the DiSCiPLiNES have due cause to flaunt their punk prowess.

Ultimately, though, the most accessible song of the set is the final track, "Oslo." Taken at a mellower pace, edge turns to angst and the DiSCiPLiNES get in touch with their inner emotions. Here Stringfellow seems perfectly at home, the melody more muted and all hints of youthful insurgence placed at least temporarily at bay.

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