SMUT PEDDLERS: Ism: CD

What’s this? A Smut Peddlers song about multinational corporations (“Playstation Generation”)? What the hell happened? Where’s all the songs about getting high? The Smut Peddlers have fucking nailed it. That’s what. Not only has the lyrical telescope been opened up beyond being a fuck-up (although the theme isn’t totally discarded, it’s just more of a starting point instead of an end destination), all of the songs on Ism can be laid next to one another like an audio series of Polaroids that go from urban California landscape shots, to shots from space, to shots at the tips of needles and the lives the swirl into them, to surf spots during a storm, to abandoned pools, to abandoned lives. The result is a crisp, unflinching, distinct string of songs that stand out by themselves, yet fit into a definite larger framework. Songs go from highly personal (“I can’t tell the difference between trying and greed”) to reviling against gentrification (“It’s a natural result of a bureaucratic cult who is fucking with the balance of power”) to just fun – “Dogtown Boys Vs. The Taliban.” Hand-in-hand with the vast improvement of the lyrics is that the Smut Peddlers play like a band now. They’re all in tight synch –Julia’s and Gish’s drums and bass provide an almost-unbreakable, rattling cage and spine to all the songs, Roger’s razorwire guitar never chokes or flails or wanks – it just seems to sneer – and John’s carnival barker/ monster truck announcer voice takes breaths and wraps itself in and out of the songs instead of just talking along. Fantastic. One warning, if you listen to this too much, you’ll be humming and toe tapping “It was an Inglewood heroin morning” when you’re pushing your shopping cart with a smile on your face. Fuckin’ catchy.

 –todd (Ransom)