• 36
  • 1156

Smith Street Band –Sunshine and Technology

Image For Smith Street Band – Sunshine and Technology

Naming yourself after a notorious Melbourne junkie haven (and gentrification battleground) invites a certain pressure. Sadly, The Smith Street Band, try as they might, can’t quite live up to it.

On Sunshine and Technology the band seems to be stuck in “punk anthem” mode. Frontman Wil Wagner’s poetic the-world’s-fucked-let’s-get-wasted routine is fine – and frequently, it’s excellent – but there’s almost no relief to break up the heart-on-sleeve onslaught. Though they can play with serious energy and dynamic range, the band exacerbates the problem; at no point does anyone step forward to provide counterpoint, a hook, anything at all to mix things up. Still, when it all comes together, as on Tom Busby, The Smith Street Band kick proper arse. Problem is, 10 full-bore anthems without respite is just too much.

6/10 stars

Comments

www.fasterlouder.com.au arrow left
45939
daverh

daverh said on the 5th Sep, 2012

C'mon, Smithys are excellent.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 5th Sep, 2012

I don't agree with these here words.

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 5th Sep, 2012

Great album.

Favourite track changes with almost every listen. Right now I'd go with Young Drunk but I was named after a dead person so I'm biased.

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 5th Sep, 2012

And here I was thinking that Sunn O))) would be the biggest shitstorm this week.

Piko

Piko said on the 5th Sep, 2012

I agree with Stefan, my favourite song on the album at the moment is also Young Drunk.

If you listen to the interview with Richard Kingsmill on 2012 (its on the J's website) Wil states they decided to go full power on this album as he feels the songs selected suits a full band and kept the slower stuff for a solo release.

Considering this is the first negative review of the album I have seen anywhere (please feel free to show me others) I think there may be a complete lack of appreciation for the lyrical content and song structures by this reviewer. I assume he doesn't notice the minimalist breakdowns and varied vocal hooks that are strewn across almost every song on the album. By stating its non stop punk rock anthems I would think he meant its all 4 chord chorus verse chorus verse chorus in each song with no pre chorus' etc.

The album starts with 3 strong punk rock styled tunes and then eases back to a more fun style poppy version of "Why I Can't Draw" with it's da da da da da hook. This I can see is the only song that wasn't written for this album and was actually part of an album Wil wrote in hospital a number of years ago.

Stay Young tends to be more mellow with a heavier chorus. Whats Changed returns to punk rock. Tom Busby and Young Drunk are the two more poetic mellow songs (and the highlights for me) on the album which like Stay Young; begin with Wil playing solo on guitar until the chorus. When I Said Us I Meant Them has an amazingly catchy chorus hook in the middle of the song which gets stronger and stronger with each line which is bound to get the crowd singing back in unison that leads into a soft sarcastic interlude in similar vain to the context of I Want Friends. The album finishes with Don't Mention the War which itself is a ballad which breaks into an emotional punk breakdown in the back half of the song.

So yes, I disagree with your review :cool:

note: So there is at least some detail for those that really gained no information at all from that lazy review.

kaydee

kaydee said on the 5th Sep, 2012

"Problem is, 10 full-bore anthems without respite is just too much"

Huh? I don't see a problem with this.

davidswan

davidswan said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Tbh I think a 43 minute album, or any album for that matter, deserves more than two pars written about it. Do agree that things could have been broken up a little, but Ed when you say the album is 'frequently excellent', maybe could have focused on that a bit more.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

I must admit I haven't listened to a lot of the Smith Street Band, but I don't get the hype.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

I think the number ranking system makes this review seem more negative than it is.

To me a six or seven out of ten record is still good, and probably worth a purchase. Keeping in mind that 10 is the best something can be e.g. OK Computer.

I think people see the ranking and are reminded of school assesments where 5/10 is tantemount to failure. This isn't true. If I'm reveiwing a record that I thought was bad I'd be thinking 2's and 3's. To me a 6/10 still has a fair few redeeming features.



TL;DR: 6/10 is a better score than it looks. I still think this record is tops though.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

I agree.

Too many people rate albums/movies/anything too highly.

More most people it's like the first 5 out of 10 aren't used.

Rating systems are dumb if everything is between 7/10 and 10/10.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Is FL doing a ratings system now? Fuck me. Having no ratings system was one of the things I liked about it - it meant you actually had to read the review to gauge the opinion.

Also, really lazy review. 1.5 paragraphs with no elaboration is essentially pointless. I'm not asking for something Shieldsy-sized, but is 5-800 words really such an effort?

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Yeah but if you're discussing a subjective matter, especially in relation to one person's review/opinion, then any sort of number system is going to be flawed.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

There's a new word limit down for the type of review, MAB.

Feature reviews are 500 - 600

Standard reviews are 100 - 180

I'm not a huge fan of the rating system. At least it doesn't let you use decimals.

grattan

grattan said on the 6th Sep, 2012



We either have feature albums (see the Oh Mercy or Cat Power reviews) which are roughly 500-600 words. Or short-form reviews at 100-180 words. Quality shouldn't be judged by length anyway [cue Oldgregg joke].

I think the number ranking system makes this review seem more negative than it is.

To me a six or seven out of ten record is still good, and probably worth a purchase. Keeping in mind that 10 is the best something can be e.g. OK Computer.

I think people see the ranking and are reminded of school assesments where 5/10 is tantemount to failure. This isn't true. If I'm reveiwing a record that I thought was bad I'd be thinking 2's and 3's. To me a 6/10 still has a fair few redeeming features.

TL;DR: 6/10 is a better score than it looks. I still think this record is tops though.

Yep, it's a little distorted - and the rating system has just come in to use on FL so that probably increases the distortion. That said - would there be as must angst here if it was presented as 3/5?

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

I do like a rating out of 10. It makes me more interested to read reviews of albums I know nothing about if they get a good score.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

How are you supposed to have a well-justified review in 100 words? That's ridiculous.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 6th Sep, 2012



Exactly.

That said, there would still be angst due to the amount of fans SSB have in the forum ha ha.

I think you can do a consice review in 100-180 words. Sure it won't be as detailed on specific points, but I think you can give a fair review in that many words.

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Review of my lunch.

I ate a sandwich. It had pickles and was nice.

End of review.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Review of my lunch.

I ate a sandwich. It had pickles and was nice.

End of review.

Rating out of 10?

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 6th Sep, 2012



9. The pickles man, a real highlight.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

An Ibis tried to steal my lunch today. He knocked all my things over in his attempt.

Lunch 3 /10

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 6th Sep, 2012

I'm not a fan of the album, clearly I am in the minority. I can't get past the vocals.

kaydee

kaydee said on the 6th Sep, 2012

Spin Magazine (and some others I think) started doing album reviews on Twitter. 140 characters including artist name/ title/ rating. They were kind of fun, enough at least to decide if you wanted to check something out in more detail.

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 6th Sep, 2012

On a sidenote. Was anyone at the recent Perth gig? A few Perth mates said that they weren't impressed with the lead singer and that he came off as a wanker. They enjoyed the gig though.
I would like to know what went on.

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 6th Sep, 2012

He repeatedly told some dudes getting violent in the crowd to cut the shit and then proceeded to not do an encore.

JelloNash84

JelloNash84 said on the 6th Sep, 2012

i offered some guy and his girlfriend a lift home a while ago after a nation blue gig, not knowing at the time it was wil wagner. super nice guy, definitely not a wanker.

great album nevertheless, deserves a better review

squagz

squagz said on the 6th Sep, 2012

What you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent 100 to 180-word response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points (out of 10), and may God have mercy on your soul.

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 7th Sep, 2012



I thought he was about peeps not giving a fuck?
Takes me back to ATDI where a few spoiled it for everybody.

Piko

Piko said on the 7th Sep, 2012

He doesn't give a shit if people are in a circle pit, crowd surfing, stage diving, just don't go throwing punches in the mosh.

I asked him about it last night. He said there was a group of 7 or so miners there perhaps FIFO not sure, but yer they were letting their hair down and were off their heads and causing trouble, including throwing haymakers and he didn't want random fans of the band getting hurt.

And yeah Wil is one of the nicest and sweetest guys you could meet. He got a tear in his eye during the solo gig at Kill the Music a few hours before the Brisbane SSB show when he sung My Little Sinking Ship because its about his sister and he hasn't seen her for a week.

But yer I lower my rating of the album now because it comes of 10 times more amazing live.

6/10 or 3/5 is the lowest review the album has received that I could find in my short search, There could well be others.

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 7th Sep, 2012

I give the album 3.66 skull cracking miners out of 10.

batdan

batdan said on the 8th Sep, 2012

Man I'm doing something wrong, I work FIFO and I don't punch anyone at gigs.

Piko

Piko said on the 8th Sep, 2012

Didn't mean that FIFO was the cause? Just saying they were miners letting off steam and going too far. They were dickheads that just happened to work in the mines.

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 8th Sep, 2012

Will Wagner clearly hates miners to single them out like that. Well I have news for him, mining saved this country. Nobody would be able to buy Smith Street albums without the mining industry. What a khunt...

Electric Cafe

Electric Cafe said on the 8th Sep, 2012

dswan - fair enough, still grappling with the concision that the new format demands. piko - i think some of wil's slower stuff could've improved the flow of this record nicely. that, along with some more flair from the supporting cast, might've a made this a very good record rather than a good record. as it is, learn the songs and go bonkers to them live - that's what the ssb is all about anyway.

Piko

Piko said on the 8th Sep, 2012



lol play nice naps :)



Fair points mate. This surely won't be the best album that The Smith Street Band ever produce. They are young and would be the first to admit that they are learning all the time. I myself love hearing Wil play solo and do agree that some slower stuff on the album would not have gone astray at all and certainly would produce a better balance and flow which they would certainly be capable of doing. Especially when you consider that Young Drunk is likely the best song on the album and is not one of the go hard punk rock songs.

They only got to play a 40 odd minute set in Brisbane because of a double booking of support acts which was a shame but there was not a weakness in the entire set and that is without Southeast Facing Wall or When I was a Boy I thought I was a Fish being played so I really can't wait to see them play a full hour set and in the essence of live performance this album has only strengthened how good their live shows are and this is a super thumbs up from me.