Planet Smashers – “Descent Into the Valley Of…”

Album Reviews | Apr 15th, 2012

Record Label: Stomp Records
Genre: Ska
Band Link:
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I feel bad for the Planet Smashers. Sooner or later, the Devil will come by to claim the souls they sold to him. There is no other possible explanation as to how this third-wave ska band can be so consistently catchy and pitch perfect. Even the Toasters have their bumps in the road.

What I like about these guys is that they marry goofy fun with mature songwriting. Take the highly infectious “Die Tomorrow,” which overlays existentialism over explosively peppy music. The lyrics “Let me die in my sleep / Right now and not tomorrow / This is what’s left, forget destiny / A life cut short, not a tragedy” and the unlikely chorus “If I died now, no sorrow” are belted out by vocalist/guitarist Matt Collyer with such energetic and wistful gusto that you don’t even realize your dancing on your own grave.

Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian and therefore not as infantile as their neighbors to the south, but the Smashers aren’t afraid to express Big Thoughts. Sometimes they act too zany and tread into Aquabats territory (note the dopey album cover, the pointlessly ironic metal intro to the album, and the mindless “Food Fight!!!” complete with exclamation marks). But they have never shied away from seriousness, especially since 2003’s Mighty – still the best ska album of the last 15 years. While not as bleak as The Hotknives, the Smashers are able to spoon out similar medicine and have it go down in bouncy, skanky goodness.

The Smashers’ maturity has never been more evident. The band who used to sing “Life of the Party” now reprises 12 years later with “It’s OK If You Want to Party” – a song that any of us graying punks can appreciate: “It’s well past 5 and this party is slowing down / You say ‘It’s ok buddy, I’ve got a plan for later on’ / Later on? Really? There’s still a later on? / Cause I was gonna grab a cab and get myself out of town.” And the chorus that drips with forced enthusiasm: “I’m ok if you want to party / We’ll stay awake all night / Just like those kids in college.”

A silly song about communicating with a younger girlfriend also belies the band’s self-awareness of their age and having to keep up with modern times: “My thumbs are too big / To really say what I mean / I gotta send by love / On a little machine, on a little machine.”

Not that these guys are old dudes. They’re normal-aged (my new term as I approach middle age myself), but the point is that they’re playing incredibly catchy, fun music without acting like high schoolers. In the ska world – actually, in the music world in general – that’s a rarity.

And, not for nothing, their dance-instruction tune “The Hippopotamus” might be one of the most fun ska tunes in years and will plant a stupid grin on your face.

Bottom Line: Goofy AND smart – fun music that ages with you.
Notable Tracks: The Hippopotamus, Looking Good, Die Tomorrow, I Believe You, My Obsession
Overall Rating:


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