There are plenty of safe, cushy jangle-pop records that snatch up the brightest bits of The Byrds, Sarah, and Anglophile pickers with summer strums in mind and Autumn ache in their hearts. Baltimore’s The Smashing Times skirt ‘round the meat and potatoes indie pop, though, and dig a bit deeper, pulling threads between the winking charms of Jasmine Minks, The Deep Freeze Mice, Biff Bang Pow! and the more rumpled ranks of Flying Nun — Sneaky Feelings, Knox, and Able Tasmans. They refract the legacies of those beloved left dial cast offs through a Paisley prism, draping a bit of psychedelic blousing onto the more straightforward indie pop pining of those touchstones.
The resulting record doesn’t barrel through strummed bliss so much as sway and stumble with a ragged rancor and a strident spirit. The band, feeling a thousand light years away from most things branded Baltimore, lets the clang of strings sing on the breeze, hand drums patter beneath the sunbaked harmonies, and reedy confessions whisper between the bars. This is a record constructed by scholars of the ringwear rolodex, finding their sound among the Aussies, indies, Kiwis, Coasters, and Brits who couldn’t care less about anything past putting the passion down to two-inch. It’s quite nice to see a band this unpolished and yet perfectly formed for those of us who’ve been tumbling through the less lacquered ranks of the indie arc. This one will almost certainly find its way into the crate digging dockets a couple of decades down the road, and good on the intrepid archivists who stumble upon it. Why wait, though? Get in on this gem now.
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