SMIRK - "MATERIAL" LP
LULUS: "Oom. Pa. Oom - pa. Oom! Pa!" The opening moments of 'Material World's Unfair' strike up a match using a bass guitar and one-two drum beat for friction. I am immediately drawn to how simple it is. Then I ponder for a moment if there's actually anything to smirk about. It doesn't sound like there is, which makes me think that surely, yes, there is. I dismiss the thought. Then the sounds changes direction, they begin to take their time. Then silence. Nice. A hint of jingle jangle emerges from the speaker cones, the distortion has lifted, the palms are laid and a song titled 'Revenge' creates a similar illusion as above; "this doesn't really sound like it's a song about revenge; it must be". The Fisher Price toy drums arrest my attention again. I think this person knows what they're doing. The same way a group like Strawman Army know what they're doing.
Allow me to try to expand a little: droll tunes casting a poisoned cross-eyed gaze at a decaying environment and a streaked mirror. There's a jester holding court inside their head and the little bugger is getting tired. So why not just let him have his way for our sad amusement. Besides, what the hell else is there to do? Get a real job? Pffft. The joke's on all of us. They know it, you know it, I know it. Might as well have a laugh and join the dance. SMIRK are piecing together a jigsaw puzzle from different boxes. They know it's a little bit wrong, but the rules don't really mean anything and that's why it has to be right. Glass. Concrete. Reality. Songs. Jokes. Material. Smirk
FEEL IT: As the Decline of Western Civilization comes into full focus, our ears turn once again to Los Angeles. The first proper full length from Smirk could very well be the soundtrack to a Decline pt. IV, with tracks like "Living in Hell" and "Hopeless" delivered for a whole new generation of latchkey kids. 'Material' follows 2021's 100% TOTAL PUNK 'EP' and 2020's 'LP', which collected the first two cassettes-de-quarantine that began Nick Vicario's run as Smirk. If you've worn out your copies of those releases, then 'Material' needs no further explanation. But if you're wondering where the magic is - let's start with pure, quality songwriting. Vicario and his revolving cast of Smirk players have really done it this time. It's punk, California, paranoia, guitars, rhythm, and a sense of humor-slash-purpose joining forces to combat reality in the truest sense. Smirk have produced an impressive punk encapsulation of the times across the web of sound on 'Material'.
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