Smash Mouth Still Has Some Magic
- Friday, September 21, 2012
Artist: Smash Mouth
Label: 429 Records
Abracadabra! The clock turns back to the late ‘90s when listening to Magic, the first new studio album in six years from California band Smash Mouth. These guys, with their ‘60s garage-meets-beach sound, know such turn-of-the-millennium mega-hits as "Walkin' on the Sun" and "All Star" brought them to this event, and that distinctive style is what will keep them on the guest list.
Sandpaper-voiced lead singer Steve Harwell turns this reality to gold on "Justin Bieber," a three-chords-and-the-truth party rocker that talks in nostalgic terms about things destined to become nostalgic—the title teenybopper, Facebook, Glee—while asking a question most hit makers ponder: In another ten years or so/When it's after the show/Would you buy another ticket or just let me go?
Echoes of past success further resound on the Austin Powers-flavored "Live to Love Another Day," a swirling keyboard workout, and equally groovy "Perfect Planet." Both are mindless fun to a point, but the underlying lyrical themes (getting a room with another guy's girl, drinking away hard times) are troublesome and don't quite match the fun spirit of the music being made.
The roller-rink-breezy first single and title track owes a nod to the inescapable "All Star" but takes a step forward thanks to a well-placed guest rap from J-Dash, whose rhymes flow into the catchy but once again content-questionable "Flippin' Out" (which plays out at the Playboy Mansion). Likewise, "Future Ex Wife" sure is a bright performance, but what a depressing premise it's built upon.
Too bad, really, because if Smash Mouth could more often align its frequent keep-your-chin-up attitude exhibited in songs like "The Game"—Take your nothing, make it something/You know you can have it all, pick it up and throw the ball—with its lighthearted movie soundtrack strengths, a lot more listeners would win.
Magic has a few other tricks up its sleeve—frayed mid-tempo adult contemporary ballads that work in that same unexpected Uncle Kracker sort of way and a straight up, commercial friendly cover of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" for those too young to remember The Breakfast Club. All said, it's an entertaining, crowd-pleasing listen, but you totally know how they did it.
*This Review First Published 9/21/2012
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