Friday, May 27, 2011
Album Review: By Surprise - Mountain Smashers
For a band that looks up to its peers almost too closely (By Surprise is named after a Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start song), it's to almost no surprise that instrumentally the album has momentum, it painfully lacks any peak or high point; the album stays consistently familiar in its instrumental delivery. The thick bass and playful guitar of "So Long And Thanks For All The Shark Jaws" feels like an accelerated track off of Look Mexico's This is Animal Music, and the entire hometown-heroes vibe of the track's personality feels inspired by Into It. Over It. There are certainly worse things to be compared to and inspired by, and whether By Surprise has been looking at their inspirations too closely or not remains irrelevant given how damn weird their lyrical tendencies tend to be in comparison to their peers.
Their words not only set them apart, they tend to put the band on display as the lyrical oddities appear like a random blooper reel in the middle of a heartfelt movie. "Mostly Harmless" begins as the title implies, even giving out one of the album's most personal lines to begin with, "I'll never be/ I'll never be/ I'll never be like the people who inspire me," only for the band to start proclaiming a line I'll remember for the rest of this year, "artichokes and lettuce/ corn on the cob and roses;" singing it in a mindless drone that eventually cracked my face into a smile at the band's strange lyrical choice. The song, despite--or perhaps in spite of--the odd lyrics, is a symbol of the band's unique choices on the record and what makes the album feel so successful it what it does. Sure, having a song called "Daggermouth Is Playing At My House" and having it completely devoted to talking about Daggermouth playing a house show is a little odd, but it feels damn good to know there's a band that can find the time and personality to do so.
Mountain Smashers is in many ways the kid I wished I could be in high school: awkwardly funny enough to keep those critical of him from taking him too seriously, and genuine enough in his approach to make it clear he was worth listening to. I may be still be the quiet critic (read: kid) keeping to himself in his room, but Mountain Smashers is the cheery friend with hit-or-miss jokes, intent on making the most of the upcoming joy and growth summer has to offer.
Buy it here.