Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Smith Street Band - No One Gets Lost Anymore [2011]

Before I began writing this review I made a conscious decision to not compare Wil Wagner to Frank Turner, but after retyping one opening sentence after another, it became very apparent that I couldn’t possibly do that. Wil Wagner and his merry band of Smith Street men possess the everyman charm of Frank Turner - albeit with a much more suburban Australian influence – and that’s what really lifts this album from an excellent folk-punk record to something that is genuinely moving.

The Smith Street Band’s stories of living in suburban Australia hit close to home, with most of the lyrics containing all-too-familiar stories of growing up, with all of the love, apathy, fucking up, falling apart and putting yourself back together again that growing up involves. While some of the songs delve into the negative things that lurk inside us all, the record never comes across as bitter or pessimistic instead opting to focus on the fact that no matter how messed up we can be, we’re never really that bad. Album opener ‘I Ain’t Safe’ is the embodiment of this attitude and even though songs like ‘My Little Sinking Ship’ are essentially about being supported by people even though you know you’re going to disappoint them, the last lines ‘and you carry me around from town to little town, never knowing how much I need you, but you can ask any thing of me’ are the perfect way of acknowledging that you still appreciate it beyond anything else. Hell, the refrain on ‘Postcodes’ yells “I’m gonna make you so proud of me,” and that The Smith Street Band will “always sing for people who will not arrest [them] and for girls that [they] barely know.” Lead single ‘Sigourney Weaver’ is a tale of unrequited love, ‘When I Was a Boy I Thought I Was a Fish’ is a triumphant thank you to everything and everyone that’s helped get the band to where they are, ‘The Belly of Your Bedroom’ is a determined ode to improving yourself, and ‘Get High, See Mice’ is about getting really fucking high and seeing mice. Honestly, you’d be hard pressed not to find something lyrically to relate to on this album and that’s probably why it has been such a huge success amongst those who have listened to it.

To be frank, the lyrics are the real highlight of No One Gets Lost Anymore, but that’s not to say that the music isn’t excellent. The band themselves are superb, providing the perfect atmosphere for the stories on the album, be it the understated beautiful guitar riff in ‘Sigourney Weaver’ or the huge climaxes in ‘Rooftops’ and ‘When I Was A Boy I Thought I Was a Fish.’ The acoustic numbers ‘The Belly of Your Bedroom’ and ‘My Little Sinking Ship’ break up the tempo of the album and are lovely pieces in themselves, being two of the most moving tracks on No One Gets Lost Anymore. This album single-handedly launched The Smith Street Band from a small bunch of dudes playing folk-punk music in Melbourne to an invitation to The legendary Fest in 2012, and it’s easy to see why. To anyone who felt a connection to Love, Ire and Song, or even The MonitorNo One Gets Lost Anymore is sure to appeal, and to those who didn’t? Start living.

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