The short, dismissive take on The Smithereens has always been that the band made a career of rewriting the same song. There's some truth to that, but it was a pretty great song, wasn't it? In the late '80s and early '90s, it became hard to avoid The Smithereens' propulsive, hook-intensive updating of classic guitar-pop, making it that much easier to take it for granted until it disappeared. Lead singer and songwriter Pat DiNizio released an enjoyable, loosely Smithereens-esque, jazz-inflected solo album in 1997, but since the failure of 1994's A Date With The Smithereens, the group has kept a low profile. Now, DiNizio and the band are back with the new God Save The Smithereens. It's not a radical departure from their previous work—who was asking for that?—but it may be The Smithereens' most varied album to date. (That's relative, of course, to the fact that it's varied within some narrow parameters.) The catchy "She's Got A Way" kicks off the album in classic Smithereens fashion, while "The Last Good Time" closes it the same way, all the while proving that DiNizio still knows how to see the glass as half-empty. But God Save The Smithereens also features welcome, smoothly incorporated variations on the formula, from the trumpet solo of "Try" to the light touch of "The Long Loneliness," to the inclusion of the Billie Holiday favorite "Gloomy Sunday." Nothing's shocking here, but God Save The Smithereens marks a welcome return for a consistently enjoyable band that has always been under-appreciated, even at the height of its popularity.

Advertisement