I think it is important to start with the disclaimer that Smash Fashion has a history of being hit and miss with me. I went into this album expecting that relationship to be more of the same, especially after the video for ‘Runs in the Family’ did nothing for me, but I am happy to say that song seems to be the exception as I have found much to enjoy here.
‘Can’t Take you Anywhere” features a glitter inspired glam guitar riff circa ’77 to start the album on a great note. Roger Deering channels a voice from a bygone era in his vocals, and Smash Fashion immediately made me sit up and pay more attention back on my first listen to this album. With a chorus that sticks like molasses, this would have been my first video from the album. Up next, ‘Soft as a Rock’ continues the hot streak with a jangly guitar riff by Lloyd Stuart Casson leading into a nearly 6 minute epic song. Scarlet Rowe (bass) and Repo Kauppila (drums) provide a tight rhythm section that allows some great starts and stops with Kauppila providing some great drum fills. The musical coda at the end sets up some future jams for the band with a great solo by Casson closing the song. The title track features a slinky beat that explodes into another dimension for the chorus, which has made the song much more enjoyable for me. It provides some great dynamics and builds anticipation throughout the song with the guitar solo being an extra surprise on your first few listens as it appears right before the final chorus.
Harmonica and a blues riff welcome ‘Wolves of Wonderland.’ I have to say one of the amazing things about Smash Fashion is they can take a 5 minute song and make it seem as short as a 3 minute single. The extended solo section here providing another great musical avenue to explore in the live setting. ‘Teenage Demon’ struts out of the speaker like an adrenalin laden T.Rex with spoken word voices giving the song additional texture. This song suffers a bit from not having a more immediate hook as it does take some patient to get its hooks into the brain. Musically, the band channels the glitter glam era exceptionally well with the slow strutting ‘Proper Way to Eat a Muffin’ delivering the goods musically, but the lyrics are just a little too silly for me. It is a fine line sometimes and different for all of us. As I mentioned at the beginning, ‘Runs in the Family’ just does not connect with me at all. It has improved a bit with repeated listens, and I have to say that I enjoy the final ¾ of the song more than the beginning.
Slowing things down a little bit, ‘Tender was the Hook’ serves up a great chorus with Deering twisting his voice around the great beat by Rowe and Kauppila. This song channels the 70’s with perhaps some sprinkles of Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth added for good measure. The rock and roll infused ‘Ugly Thugly’ finds Casson letting loose on the guitar with Deering supplying another catchy chorus that would make Bolan and Bowie proud. ‘Gentle Hand’ begins with an awesome guitar riff and features a great hook by Deering. This would be one of my future singles/ videos if I was marketing the album as it hits hard and direct. This is another of my favorites and reminds me of the brilliant and just dissolved Dr. Boogie. The soft ‘Smiles and Daggers’ brings the album to a close with some very nice piano work. It provides something completely different from everything that comes before it. I have not found myself going specifically to it for a listen but do enjoy ending each listen of the album with it as it really winds things down nicely since it builds to an epic rock finish.
Smash Fashion have delivered an album that has made me much more of a fan of the band as the only real stumble for me comes in the middle of the album. They start and finish strong though. If you are looking for some cool rock and roll that will leave your room covered in sequins, glitter, and satin; Smash Fashion will hit the sweet spot for you.
Author: Gerald Stansbury