Album Review – Bloom by The Smashing Times (2022) (Meritorio Records)
The Smashing Times sort of crumpled into the consciousness of the Bandcamp indie-crowd with a superlative debut album, Summer Inside (May 2021), released on the Painter Man Records cassette label that, during their short tenure, had always been something of a safe haven for the weird and wonderful.
Thankfully, the move to the Meritorio Records label, which has always been the bastion of the finest, more lucid modern-day jangle-pop acts, has not diminished their obtuse persuasions in any way, even if they are not juxtaposed with some genuine playlist fodder.
In fact, this album is held together by the sheer quality of its tunes. The sublime The Reed Cutter and Lost, When I Remember, which emphasize the freak-psyche that has always been a part of their repertoire, could easily find themselves on a plethora of “best of” lists at the end of the year, while still appeasing those alt.jangle fans who buy The Smashing Times tickets for their innovative attention to the obtuse.
They redress the balance in all their weird freak psyche glory on Down in the Old Wave Form and Winter Turns to Spring, in what fees almost like an apology for flirting with the traditional structures they had previously foregone.
However, we really hear this act at their most creatively astute when they turn their attention to the Television Personalities-inflected jangly indie-pop of all that was gloriously perverse about the early to mid-80s anglophile scene.
Best represented by fractious, chiming jangled riffs and Dan Treacy meets Stephen Pastel style vocals of Diana, Waiting for the Sun, Come Out in the Sun and Play, Echoes, The Golden Mare and the utter brilliance of the strangely beautiful, Felt style, strains of Mother Nature is Son, this album even usurps the brilliance of their debut purely by the sheer numbers of genuinely memorable tracks.
I suppose I should offer an apology for being all “gushing fanboy” about this act. However, the day I stop feeling such enthusiasm for genuinely excellent acts, will be the day I stop this blog.