Review Summary: New solo album from Todd Smith of Dog Fashion Disco / Polkadot Cadaver fame. You're bound to find something here you'll like.
From the demented mind of Todd Smith comes a catchy, twisted, and thoroughly entertaining record. For the uninitiated, Todd Smith was the frontman and head songwriter of now defunct Dog Fashion Disco and it's reincarnation, Polkadot Cadaver. Both bands known for their genre bending and catchy metal jams, Smith manages to take his unique ear for music and apply it in a whole new way.
Focusing mostly on a more mellow style, El-Creepo! takes what you expect and tosses it out the window. Smith, wanting to make a more acoustic centered record, wrote an odd but cohesive mix of offbeat songs. Here you'll find anything from a loungy country tune to 80's synth pop to hammock-style mandolin fun. Every track offers something new and is a total treat to listen to. Do not be mistaken, the songs are not weird for the sake of weird, but they are eccentric and still very listenable.
Smith handles a majority of the instrumentation, whether it be live guitar or bass, or digital instruments like synths and drums. Any live drums are taken by ex-DFD's John Ensminger. Songs like "Pitchfork" demonstrate his prowess around a kit, with perfectly placed accents and impressive fills. The production side off the album is also superb. Even with the variety of styles, you'll find everything sounds clean and in place.
Handling all of the singing, Smith's voice ranges from deceptively sweet to deranged. Any kindness of the vocals is usually offset by the dark lyrics. Listening to the opening track, "Lazy Tiger," one might not readily guess that the easy-going mandolin groove is a song about being stalked by a killer. Or the unassuming acoustic strumming of "Spaceneedle" hides lyrics about the morbidly beautiful side of doing heroin. A personal favorite is from the track "Witch Hunt" which describes the memoirs of a Jonestown massacre survivor. "What do they want from me/a deathbed confession or a heartfelt apology/lets pass the Kool-Aid/strictnine and strawberry/it's a Jonestown holiday/ all the kids are in their graves." For the most part these lyrics are clever and well written and not done so much for shock value as they are for a twisted sense of humor.
While, as I previously stated, the main focus of the album is a more mellow and acoustic style, El-Creepo! kicks it up a few notches when it has to. "The Art of Bullfighting" slowly builds to a maniacal outro that could leave your head spinning. "Hitman," which is apt to garner plenty of Mike Patton comparisons, is a face-paced hard rock jam. The synth pop groove of "Hot Little Temper" is bound to have people dancing in their cars.
In closing, El-Creepo! is an extremely well collection of unique but entertaining songs. Some people may be put off by the subject matter of the lyrics, but others are going to find the songs here surprisingly catchy and fun. Those who weren't fans of DFD or PC can expect something totally different. It's worth a listen to anyone as you are bound to find something you'll like.