Few bands can consistently produce all-killer, no-filler albums
Few bands can consistently produce all-killer, no-filler albums that balance outrageously infectious melodies and hooks with equal amounts of ire and integrity. Smoke Or Fire sound very much like they are amongst that elite crop. ‘The Speakeasy’, the US punk rockers’ third album, not only matches up to 07’s outstanding ‘This Sinking Ship’, but also finds the band further developing their sound. Joined by Avail’s Justin ‘Gwomper’ Burdick on bass and Darkest Hour’s Ryan Parrish on drums, singer / guitarist Joe McMahon and guitarist / backing vocalist Jeremy Cochran have delivered some of their finest work to date. Still raging about injustice, inequality, and the greed of the economic elite, the album kicks off in typically angry and anthemic fashion, lambasting the mainstream presentation of news in ‘Integrity’, before they break into ‘Monsters Among Us’ and ‘1968’, both of which boast typically smart structures and enduring, irresistible choruses. Elsewhere, ‘Neon Light’ and ‘Honey, I Was Right About The War’ add diversity to proceedings; the latter an acoustic country-folk song lamenting Bush’s US foreign policy, the former a hugely affecting and accomplished rock song. ‘Porch Wine’ and the smart lyricism of ‘Expatriate’ are among other highlights, but it’s difficult to pick standouts from an album of such constant quality. Anyone who cherishes gruff, sincere and rabble-rousingly catchy punk rock should invest both time and funds in ‘The Speakeasy’.