Posted by: will | March 20, 2007

Smoke Or Fire…

Smoke Or Fire “This Sinking Ship” (Fat Wreck Chords)


A few years ago when listening to Smoke Or Fire’s 2005 debut full-length album, Above The City, I remember having a certain sinking (no pun intended) feeling. Above The City was such a fresh-sounding piece of melodic punk rock. The feeling was more of an uneasiness that Smoke Or Fire would never be able to replicate the spirit of their debut. I am not sure why I had that sneaking suspicion that Above The City would be the best it would get, but I did.

So, fast forward to 2007 and Smoke Or Fire have released their sophomore album, This Sinking Ship. I actually saw Smoke Or Fire play live a few months before This Sinking Ship was released. They played a lot of these songs and I was thoroughly impressed with the band’s raucous set. The songs sounded every bit as tight, energetic and angry as the songs on Above The City. But, something happened during the recording of This Sinking Ship. Something came up missing. This Sinking Ship is far too polished and lacks the rough around the edges feel that Above The City offered. Gone for the most part is the raw ferocity and grit that the band flexed so naturally and liberally. Vocalist Joe McMahon’s gruff voice has been replaced by a cleaner vocal sound. Everything here seems far too contrived and polished.

Despite all that, there are some great songs that stick out on This Sinking Ship. Perhaps This Sinking Ship is just a hiccup for Smoke Or Fire…a bump in the road on the band’s way to greener pastures. The band has certainly not lost the ability to create catchy punk rock songs…they have just lost a little bit of their charm along the way.

RIYL: Strike Anywhere, Avail, Hot Water Music


Smoke Or Fire – The Patty Hearst Syndrome (mp3)

Smoke Or Fire – Melatonin (mp3)


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