Album Review: A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness by Rocketship (1996) (Slumberland Records)

Some bands should have been influential. However, in reality they were perhaps only such on a ‘several times removed’ basis, inasmuch that they are the bands that influenced the influences of the cool bands of today.

Rocketship are one such band. Their sound courses through the veins of so much great music these days that will never be declared as having a ‘Rocketship influence’…but it has got their somehow, no matter how remotely.

The best of this mid-90’s album sees tracks such as I Love You Like the Way That I Used To (see a great live version from a 2014 reunion below), Kisses Are Always Promises and I’m Lost Without You Here, immediately draw comparison with a modern day band such as the brilliant Trying.  All playful, slightly fuzzed twee-pop, with the slightest approximation of gaze tendencies, the two bands are definitive kindred musical spirits.

Thankfully, Rocketship were seemingly unable to stick with one particular aesthetic, even within the confines of this comparatively small album. As such they also wrapped their undoubted skills around tracks like Heather Tell Me Why and Let’s Go Away, that are equal parts Pavement at their most laconic and a modern day lo-fi/bedroom act like Frog at their most insistent Perhaps not Rocketship at their most ‘cute and endearing’ but certainly at their most cool.

The final aesthetic of this eclectic album has nothing notably ‘cute and adorable’ about it. Tracks such as Carrie Cooksey (see below) and I’m Lost Here Without You, claim the ground between the sweetest ‘gaze’ of Ectasy era My Bloody Valentine and where Merge Records era Superchunk planted their grumbling jangly indie-pop.  Such a sound adds temperance to the potentially luscious twee surrounds.

A Certain Smile A Certain Sadness is an absolutely superb album that all too few people know they should be thankful for…although perhaps they can now find out with the majority of their work now being placed on Bandcamp and this album being re-released by the Nonstop Co-op label in 2015.

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  1. Thanks for the insightful review, my friend.

    We’ve another record out for 2019: “Thanks to You”. It, “A Certain Smile…” and all our other music is at, if you’re so inclined.

    Best wishes,


  2. Thanks for the insightful review, my friend.

    Rocketship has a new record for 2019: “Thanks to You”. It, “A Certain Smile…” and all our other music is at rocketshipmusic, if you’re so inclined.

    Best wishes,


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