Long live The Smithereens! For nearly 30 years, fans of ‘50s-based power pop have appreciated the talent of the New Jersey quartet. Over the last few years, the band has taken the road less traveled, releasing cover albums (The Beatles and The Who), playing Beatles conventions and secondary circuits, releasing a Christmas album, and doing solo projects while trying to exist as a group.
Despite a slight lineup change (in 2006, original bassist Mike Mesaros retired and was replaced by Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion), the band continues to tour. And now, they’ve released their seventh full length studio album of original material; their first in 12 years!
With 2011, the band is back in old form. They’ve reunited with longtime producer and college rock radio icon Don Dixon and approached the project as they did their first two albums (Especially for You and Green Thoughts). The blending and balance of overdriven guitars and acoustics are back. The lush and layered backups are present. The Buddy Holly-esque melodies and driving bass lines remain and draw you in.
Even though they’re looking back, the finished product does not sound tired. The album kicks off with the upbeat “Sorry” and transitions nicely into “Keep On Running;” which has one of the most inviting vocal melodies Pat Dinizio has ever committed to tape. Other standout tracks include “A World of Our Own,” “Goodnight Goodbye” and “Viennese Hangover.” To be honest, there’s something endearing about all 13 tracks.
2011 is like an old friend you haven’t seen in more than a decade. Outward appearances may have changed due to maturity and life experiences, but, once the dialogue starts you’re immediately catapulted back to a more familiar time and able to pick up where you left off.