The Morning Line - Smoke - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Morning Line - Smoke

by D R Pautsch Rating:7 Release Date:2017-12-08
The Morning Line - Smoke
The Morning Line - Smoke

Name the songs about Los Angeles that have been written, they are usually very good.  "LA" by Elliott Smith, "I Love LA" by Randy Newman, hell even Billy Joel turned up the vitriol for "Los Angelenos."  What all these have in common is a tongue in cheek approach and a total detachment from the city to the point of saying ‘I hate Los Angeles’.  On the opening number of Smoke no such disguise is employed as they sing ‘I get sick of driving Mullholland, I hate you Los Angeles’.  It sets the stall out strongly for this power pop return after eight years and whilst the ensuing eleven tracks don’t quite meet the promise it is at times a joy to hear.  If you like Power Pop then this is your second best album of the year, after the similar sounding Matthew Sweet with his return to form Tomorrow Forever.

So you get the deal; jangly guitar, huge catchy hooks and harmony, this is an album that wants you to love it just a bit too much. It reeks of a different time where good tunes where the most important thing. It has moments of bliss like "Los Angeles" and "Polygraph," but has moments where it stumbles. "Last One of the Losers" sounds exactly as the title promises, dour, plodding and not quite the torch song it tries to be.  "Rough" is an acoustic led track that stalls in its take off and never quite regains momentum.  It feels restrained and not as joyous as it should be, and therein lies a lot of why this whole album isn’t quite as good as it could be.   It just comes across as a bit too introspective, a bit too restrained, and it doesn’t quite have enough of the swagger of Los Angeles in the other songs.  It is almost a torch song power pop album. "Rather" starts off strong and then again hits the buffers as it steps back, and the chorus doesn’t quite deliver the lyrical hook or full-on licks that would redeem it.  That it sounds like a slowed down and less likeable Elvis Costello does not endear it either.

Smoke is fast out of the blocks, runs out of pace quickly, and finds its second wind a little too late when it comes good with its final two numbers "Polygraph" and "Mailboxes."  A real shame as you can feel your teeth rotting under the sweet melodies at times.


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"Los Angeles" from X and "L.A. Woman" from The Doors - two of the greatest songs about that city!

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