The Smithereens: 2011

The Smithereens
(Entertainment One)
Rating: ★★★½☆

After two albums of Beatles covers, another blasting through the majority of the Who’s “Tommy,” a Christmas release and a live disc, Smithereens fans were probably wondering when, or even if, the group would get around to recording another set of new songs. Twelve years after the quartet’s last batch of originals it’s here, a true return to form right down to a title that references 1989’s Smithereens 11. Pat DiNizio’s deep, world weary vocals sound no less trenchant than they did during the act’s ’80s salad days and his songs follow suit. The opening “Sorry” is as powerful and memorable a melody as he’s ever penned, a reminder of when the group cranked out songs like this with remarkable speed and consistency. Don Dixon returns for production work and the foursome went back to their old rehearsal space to cut these thirteen timeless tracks. Songs such as “Turn it Around” wrap their ringing guitars and Beach Boys styled backing vocals over a West Coast 60s aesthetic that manages to feel both retro and contemporary. Elsewhere “Keep on Running” (not the Spencer Davis Group hit) and “Rings on her Fingers” captures the lovelorn, sad sack ruminations that course through the Smithereens’ best power pop. Ballads such as “As Long as You Are Near Me” sound like future classics and with their sing-along choruses stick in your brain after the first spin. If this album appeared in the late ’80s, it would have been hailed as one of the band’s finest efforts. In 2011 it’s merely the comeback of the year.