Smug Brothers: In The Book Of Bad Ideas [Album Review]

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Smug Brothers
In The Book Of Bad Ideas
Anyway Records [2023]

Ohio indie band Smug Brothers has released some great under-the-radar records since their formation in 2004. The band boasts a relaxed, stylish blend of power pop and lo-fi rock that captivates listeners right from their opening guitar strums. In The Book Of Bad Ideas continues to embrace this distinctive style, but listeners can discern a touch of added edge in these 15 tracks.

Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Kyle Melton penned the majority of the tunes during the pandemic. Recording initially commenced with bassist Kyle Sowash, lead guitarist Scott Tribble, and drummer/Smug Brothers co-pilot Don Thrasher. However, Tribble amicably departed the band before his contributions could be fully realized, leaving a guitar void that Melton had to step in and fill. This position was not one that Melton was entirely comfortable with, but it helped shape In The Book Of Bad Ideas into a better record, with more risks, new musical avenues, and a fresh confident perspective on Smug Brothers’ song development and delivery.

In The Book Of Bad Ideas is sprinkled with infectious tunes. “Stiff Arm At The Still Water” is an invigorating foot-tapper that will have you nodding along. “Let Me Know When It’s Yes” boasts 60’s rock melodies and jangly guitars that vividly highlight their power pop influences. Elsewhere, you can discover more lo-fi tracks in “Helium Drag” and “Enceladus Lexicon,” which also incorporate new wave synths into their backdrops. It’s worth noting the invaluable contribution of Don Thrasher’s impeccable drumming (formerly of Guided By Voices and Swearing at Motorist), which propels this album ceaselessly forward. His precise drumming can be heard not only in a song like “Since The First Time I Heard You Laugh” but consistently throughout the entire album.

This album is a delightful reminder of the enduring appeal of power pop, and Smug Brothers pay homage to the past while establishing a distinct presence in today’s indie music scene. With their catchy hooks, shimmering guitars, and the focused vocals of Melton, they’ve crafted an album that not only resonates with die-hard fans but also possesses the potential to captivate a broader audience. In The Book Of Bad Ideas is a joyous, toe-tapping, and irresistibly melodic collection of songs that serves as a testament to the timeless charm of this beloved musical style. It may very well stand as one of Smug Brothers’ finest records to date.

“Let Me Know When It’s Yes” / “Stiff Arm At The Still Water” / “Helium Drag”

Motel Beds / The Toms / Connections

Serve A Thirsty Moon (2019) / All Blur And Spark (2019)Attic Harvest (2019)Disco Maroon (2017)Echo Complex Split EP (2016)Woodpecker Paradise (2015)On The Way To The Punchline (2014)

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Christopher Anthony
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