Coming across even more potent than his first, Jed Smith’s latest outing under the Mick Trouble banner once again embraces the shadow of ‘80s UK jangle-pop with a precision that’s often unmatched in his peers. Built on the bones of Television Personalities’ brash, yet insistent singles, the second Mick Trouble nips a bit of sinew and solace from the bodies of work that Dolly Mixture, Cleaners From Venus and Biff Bang Pow! left behind as well. Though, these are more imprints than influences, as Smith’s ability to embody the era is more than uncanny. It’s hard to believe that both this and his first LP weren’t scooped out of some second hand shop for a few dollars and reissued as lost artifacts. Written as if displaced in time, the songs feel like they reverberate out of club doors, spilling onto the street to grab hold of some slightly sauced second years in cardigans looking for an antidote to punk’s brashness while still spurning Top of the Pops crowd.
That’s the charm that Mick Trouble represents, the gangly outsider that refuses to let the studio comforts take hold while never losing sight of the pop hooks embedded deep into his being. It’s pop that’s at the heart of the record, but like the shambolic smirk of Chris Knox or the winking whimsy of Dan Treacy, the songs that fill its manifest just won’t let themselves settle for standard settings. The brash and bright strums tumble out of the speakers while Smith tells tales of class warfare, Iron Ladies, and Hadrian’s Wall. This one’s going to hit a very specific type of record digger, but if there’s space between your early Pains singles, Smokscreen LPs, and Reds, Pinks and Purples works, then this should fit right in.
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