The Smith Street Band
Throw Me in the River


4.5
superb

Review

by no EMERITUS
November 3rd, 2014 | 727 replies


Release Date: 10/31/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: and here it is

Throw Me In The River is kind of like a Weakerthans album happening backwards. No one dances or has a chill time – no one is sending postcards that try to say I love you and end up saying ILUxox instead, because sincerity is hard. Actually, the Smith Street Band are the most fucking appallingly sincere band of all time, and Wil Wagner is dumbfounded at the question “are you for real?”. How could you even ask that? He literally means everything – everything he says, but also everything that has ever been said by anyone else. If John K. Samson could just say it all, instead of postulating what the world would be like if he were able to say it all, he would have written this album.

There’s a song on here that sounds a hell of a lot like Coldplay, too, and I fucking love it. It’s like if Chris Martin knew what whiskey was and sang about fucking – I don’t mind that he doesn’t do that, but I’m glad someone else does, with him in mind.

I’ve struggled with the Smith Street Band a lot. I hate open wounded songs like these as much as I love them – I breathe in bands like this obsessively, then return to them a month later and wonder if what they’re making can even be called music. But I think Wil Wagner has turned that about, because on top of screaming these steep cliff-hanger lyrics, he adds a word or two about how serious he really is: like “When I said I wanted to die, I meant it”. Or when he cuts himself off from the world he kinda knows we’ve seen it in a TV show, and won’t get fooled again. So he laughs about it, rolling his eyes half way through a guitar riff: get high, see no one, [laugh]. Emo and pop-punk have come back so strongly because they’re made by sincere hobbyists, and because expressive, honest narratives made by truthers are enough to qualify as good art in 2014, but Wagner knows that the best songs are made with a roar, an exaggeration of the truth – and then after, an omission about how stupid it all is. “You deserve more than another fucking song.”

That Throw Me In The River is glorious and miserable in hand-holding tandem is no surprise: the lyrics shared between opener and closer are proof enough that Wagner just wants to carry a weight and carry it well. “All I ever needed was something I could hold in my hands” should be the by-line of all this pop and folk and fake punk, because without the called-off love affairs and deep troubles there’d be nothing worth screaming back to your fans, who may or may not be going through the same shit, but are mostly just a louder version of the live studio audience from Friends, with more patch-sewing ability and less heteronormativity (uh, sometimes?). It’s not universal, because no music is – it’s just a heavy weight, which fans are happy to carry, even if the box is just full of broken glass from all the bottles the Smith Street Band broke.

I realise y’all are at the Fest right now, so I can say whatever the fuck I want. But I really, truly adore Throw Me In The River. It feels like a very real album, which is always a delightful thing to happen in this nebulous little genre. Christmas Island felt like the real deal. So did Cerulean Salt. And Vacation felt so proper – I remember “the Pet Sounds of punk” being thrown about, but how about the OK Computer of orgcore? And Throw Me In The River feels like an immaculately crafted piece of noisy heartbreak from start to finish, like some scarred gem with more log-cabin fantasy than a whole lot of Bon Iver nonsense. Even though all these songs happen in places like New York and Melbourne and other places you can buy weed rather than grow it. I can feel it all coming from the same place, from the same rooms, with songs rolling out as a direct result of other songs – getting high in “Get High” thanks to the turmoil of “Arrogance”, or getting thrown into the cold water in the title track and realising half way through it’d be more fun to bomb into the water and fucking Love Life for what it is instead. A lot of thought went into telling this whole truth, and to be honest, I love that. I love life, too, but in a Smith Street Band way: it’s the fucking worst.



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user ratings (357)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2014


6283 Comments


this review is... wow. nice of balance personal tone and creative insight. idk too much about your body of work tbh, but I
would't be surprised if quite a few writers here modelled their style after yours. nice work robin.

dimsim3478
November 2nd 2014


7653 Comments


ILUxox robin

Digging: Ging Nang Boyz - ????

deathschool
November 2nd 2014


21896 Comments


Fuck yes, robin. Fantastic review.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2014


39294 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

God fucking dammit robin your reviews just do things to me like I don't even know

Feather
November 2nd 2014


3848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. This album could not have been released at a better time.

SeaAnemone
November 2nd 2014


21405 Comments


this review is my everything

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2014


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

There’s a song on here that sounds a hell of a lot like Coldplay, too, and I fucking love it. It’s like if Chris Martin knew what whiskey was and sang about fucking


Love it.

Digging: Future and Young Thug - Super Slimey

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
November 2nd 2014


4408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Robin, you are the best.

RogueNine
November 2nd 2014


3318 Comments


Emeriti never truly leave.

IronGiant
November 2nd 2014


1544 Comments


god this review is great. albums bananas too

kris.
November 2nd 2014


14570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"I realise y’all are at the Fest right now, so I can say whatever the fuck I want."



hahahahaha

kris.
November 2nd 2014


14570 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i love you robin

OneMoreRoland
November 2nd 2014


1053 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Love this damn band. My friends and I smoke with Wil and the band. It was so radddddddddddddddddddddd

MyCarandMyGuitar
November 2nd 2014


2266 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Terrific review, idk about Christmas Island being a particularly "real" album compared to AJJ's other stuff tho

mynameischan
Emeritus
November 2nd 2014


17946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

so sad they couldn't play their normal fest set but their pre-fest set was amazing as always



ily robin

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
November 3rd 2014


55295 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

want to jam nothing but smith stree and weakerthans



Digging: Khmer - Larga Sombra

dimsim3478
November 3rd 2014


7653 Comments


and rtj

ShadowRemains
November 3rd 2014


24777 Comments


says the guy who wrote the teitanblood review

Spare
November 3rd 2014


5567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i wish i still loved this band. good review brUH

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 3rd 2014


24841 Comments


All of your reviews make me realize I'll never really be a great writer. But I love it.

Digging: Billy Corgan - Ogilala



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