Smash Mouth’s fifth studio album, and their first since 2003’s disappointing ‘Get The Picture?’, is a return to form for the band. They’re now on their own label, Beautiful Bomb, and there’s a new man on the drums – Jason Sutter, previously of American Hi-Fi, has replaced Michael Urbano – and the band as a whole have come back sounding sunnier and catchier than they have for a while.
The album kicks off strongly with ‘The Crawl’. It’s unmistakably Smash Mouth, with the catchy guitar riff, keyboard solo and Steve Harwell’s distinctive, gravelly vocals. ‘Everyday Superhero’ is another slice of surf-pop, while the slightly funky ‘So Insane’ – with its “oooh oooh” chorus beginning – will have you yearning for the beach. Despite the slightly dodgy and uninspiring rhyming lyrics of ‘Girl Like You’, “You, standing in a queue, walking through the Louvre, with your mother” for example, the song will find you not only wanting the beach but also the 1960s.
‘Getaway Car’ is rescued by a pretty cool guitar solo from Greg Camp, but the less said about the rest of it the better. It would, however, be perfect for yet another Smash Mouth movie soundtrack appearance, possibly in a kid’s crime caper. The album gets back on track with the first single, ‘Story Of My Life’. It has a happy sound and is probably the most memorable song, but it’s got rather depressing lyrics about one unlucky guy!
The frenetic tempo finally drops with ‘Right Side, Wrong Bed’, a nice acoustic number, but it’s the only break from Smash Mouth’s relentless soundtrack for the summer, which starts to drag by the end of the album. This is particularly evident on the punky ‘Hey L.A.’ and on ‘Quality Control’, which sounds like it belongs on their earlier self-titled album.
Smash Mouth as a band are pretty hard to define, because of their constantly changing sound, but all in all, this is certainly one of their better releases. If this has been another album the standard of ‘Get The Picture?’ they would probably be off the musical radar, but Summer Girl has, unlike the poor guy sung about in ‘Story Of My Life’, stopped their boat from sinking. Ok, so there’s no ‘Walkin’ On The Sun’ or ‘All Star’ here but there’s plenty of rocking surf-pop. Listen to the album and remember last summer’s parties. Right, I’m off to find for that hot-looking girl on the cover art.