Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Manilow by Smudge.

Alternative rock has gotten pretty snobby these days. Every other record put out is a concept album, most of them centring around the ground-breaking ideas that Wars Are Bad, and Folks Get Sad and Kill Themselves Sometimes. Musicians and listeners alike seem almost embarrassed by the idea that rock and roll used to be, y'know, fun.

Thank fuck for Smudge then, and their album Manilow, which is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday. The album is effortless - it works naturally, and without pretension. None of the songs are about World Peace or the politics of the Middle East. There's no deep hidden meaning here (unless you're the kind of person who can read an essay out of the line "well it's not much like a lounge.")

Impractical Joke
Smudge takes the feelings, characters, and locations that other bands might pretentiously dismiss as 'ordinary' and crafts something important out of them. Just take "Divan" or "Ugly Just Like Me" - songs that are as far removed from the artificial 'poetic' world of singers like Leonard Cohen as you can imagine. There's nothing cold, or considered about those two ballads, and that's what makes them immediately so goddamn likeable. These aren't songs that are meant to make you sit around and ponder - their songs that give a sudden, unavoidable jolt of emotion to your system.


Smudge are a band of contradictions - they're funny, but they can be kinda sad too. Their songs seems totally effortless, but in a way that makes you realise how much thought and passion has been put into making it feel that way. There's enough space on their records to let you relax, but they're tight too - not a single song drags or hesitates for a second.

Divan - Tom Morgan says you can crash out on his divan.
It's the kind of music that invites you in, rather than snobbily trying to make you work at liking it. It's the warm, open tunes of a band who want to make you feel as good listening to their music as they feel playing it. And it fucking rocks.
Get the album on vinyl here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/smudge-manilow-20th-anniversary-vinyl-reissue. Or don't. Smudge'll probably still like you anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment