The Smith Street Band : Sunshine And Technology
Despite its period pretensions to gentrification, Smith Street will never completely escape its feral character. Sitting on the edge of the old Collingwood Flat, the bleak urban landscape banishes sunshine and beauty like a grumpy old man rallying against the so-called progress of the modern era.
So when The Smith Street Band decides to invoke the modern day utopian imagery of sunshine and technology for its debut album, there has got to be a level of irony involved – or, given the Celtic enthusiasm and literary precision at the heart of The Smith Street Band’s music, maybe a robust quantity of alcohol and a slab of wicked humour.
The title track is collage of urban philosophy and post-modern existentialism, rounded out with a delivery of the street corner preacher of yore. I Want Friends is an exercise in adolescent denial – if age is going to defeat the enthusiasm of youth, then fuck it all – and What’s Changed is a brutal examination of comparative existence, warts, jealousy and all. Stay Young loiters in the shadows of Billy Bragg’s shadow, and the even longer shadow of adult experience, while the Tom Busby offers a hard-edged ballad for a love that once, and may never be again. When I Said Us I Meant Them is the perennial narrative of devotion above and beyond the call of romantic duty; as the drives to its inevitable emphatic power-chord conclusion, there’s a sense of poetic futility. And then there’s the brooding Don’t Mention The War; denial is, just maybe, the original dysfunctional human emotion.
The closest thing you’ll get to poetry on Smith Street might be the garbled spit of some bloke trying to scam spare change for a nefarious night out; or maybe it’s The Smith Street Band, exposing the world for all its naked imperfections.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: I Want Friends
If You Like These, You'll Like This: THE POGUES, THE CLASH
In A Word: Existential