New Jersey’s Smithereens are back with “2011” their latest album featuring all new songs produced by long-time collaborator Don Dixon.
With their first full-length album of original material this millennium, The Smithereens prove that good things come to those who wait. This may be their first all-new album in 12 years, but the band still sound as vital and at the top of their game as they ever did. If they sound like they never left, that’s probably because they never did.
In a perfect blend of “yesterday and today”, the album showcases plenty of “classic Smithereens” style tunes like the thrilling no-holds-barred rocker “Sorry” as well as the haunting “Goodnight Goodbye” that sounds somewhat more reminiscent of later era “God Save the Smithereens” material. With producer Don “the 5th Smithereen” Dixon (“Especially For You”, “Green Thoughts” and “A Date With the Smithereens”) back at the helm, this sounds like the very best of vintage Smithereens, but with some new tricks bundled up their sleeves as well.
“We went back to Tucasa studios on Avenue B which is where we did all of the rehearsal and where the material was evolved for our second album for Capitol – Green Thoughts. And I felt that we needed, for this new album, to go back to the roots, to get back to the street.” -Pat DiNizio
This album is a great return to form with all of the musical elements that we’ve come to know and love about the Smithereens still present and accounted for. From the first pummeling power chords of the opening track (and the album’s first single) “Sorry”, you know that you’re in familiar rocky Smithereens terrain with its “relationship from hell” lyrics, a full throttle head-bop inducing guitar solo and a catchy defiant refrain. (“I would like to say I’m sorry, but I won’t.”) Other hits waiting to happen include the eminently hummable “Bring Back The One I Love” with its “right up in your face” strumming guitar intro, hooky chorus and baroque keyboard flourishes. The “Jersey beat” enlists in the “British Invasion” with “Rings On Her Fingers” which is another winner containing ethereal harmonies, jangly guitars and a sprightly pop backbeat.
This may be the most harmony laden of all the Smithereens’ albums. Heavenly choirboy choruses run rampant throughout the dreamily rocking “One Look At You” (which makes for a nifty opening “one-two punch” in tandem with “Sorry”) and the conciliatory “Turn It Around”. There’s also the enticing lilting rock waltz of “Viennese Hangover” which could be a foreign distant cousin to the song “Cigarette” from the Smithereens’ “Especially For You” album.
“Some people that have seen us before are saying we sound better than ever. There is a lot of encouragement and this is what we are made to do. We are on this earth to play together and be creative and make music.” – Dennis Diken
The album’s majestic masterpiece, “A World of Our Own”, begins with a soaring harmony chorus in the same realm as The Beatles’ “Because” (from the “Abbey Road” album). The introductory lush choral harmonies are soon augmented by echoing “Pet Sounds” Beach Boys-like basslines from Severo Jornacion and then Dennis Diken unleashes his manic drumming to disturb the peace with Jim Babjak in tow on chiming electric guitar. In the midst of all of this sonic wizardry, Pat DiNizio sings achingly of his intentions to build a fortress of solitude to shield both him and the object of his affection from the rest of the outside world. Along with the yearning ode to joy of “As Long As You Are Near Me”, this is one of those rare Smithereens love songs from a band that’s more likely to dwell on woe than woo.
The CD booklet contains liner notes by producer Don Dixon and an informative essay by GOLDMINE contributing editor Chris Junior about the album’s recording sessions along with an overview of the Smithereens’ ongoing 31 year career. So who says that rock is dead? It’s only been lying in hibernation until The Smithereens could resuscitate it with renewed vigor on this, their latest classic album of indelible riffs and timeless melodies – “The Smithereens 2011”.