Smoking Popes

This Is Only A Test

Written by: PP on 28/03/2011 22:18:25

"This Is Only A Test" is the sixth studio album by the highly underrated Smoking Popes, a band which had some prominence during the 90s before being dropped from their major label in the late 90s. It's a concept album with an interesting semi-autobiographical twist to it, with all songs written from the perspective of a single teenage boy dealing with the growing pains of adolescence. Primary songwriter and singer Josh Caterer claims the character is entirely fictional, while also adding that his own experiences during high school certainly influenced a number of tracks on the record.

The songs generally deal with themes and struggles that most of us have gone through during the harder days of high school. Sure, there's an emotionally dense, sappy love song about a girl "Diary Of A Teen Tragedy", but it is one that has been written from a more intellectual standpoint than your average pop punk song about a girl. It reads like a number of entries in a real teenage diary:

"Dear diary. Today, I saw the girl I'm going to marry. We passed each other in the hall, and when our eyes met, although no words were exchanged, something passed between us, something undeniable and real. I could feel the connection, a deep, deep connection. And I could hear a voice within me, crying out: she is the one. She is your destiny."

For the most part though, the songs deal with other issues like thinking about going to college on "College", and my personal favorite, the instantly catchy "Punk Band", with its charming, youthful lyricism about being in a band: "Booked ourselves a tour, barely made enough for gas, learned a couple of things they don't talk about in social studies class. Living in a van, sleeping on the floor, angry young and poor...playing in a punk band".

All of the songs are sung with a clean croon resembling today's original emo vocalists from bands like Everyone Everywhere. It gives the songs a believable and honest edge, even though this is men well into their 30s singing songs about teenage problems. Musically, the sound is best described as punk-influenced pop rock, drawing parallels and comparisons to bands as varied as Weezer, The Thermals, Bayside and Alkaline Trio, though the best way to reference songs like "Freakin' Out" is to say they're somewhere between the emotionally charged and bright songs of Alkaline Trio, but with the nostalgic flavor of Bayside peaking in the background. It can be cheesy at times, but the vast majority of tracks are pretty damn catchy, but not annoyingly so, thanks to a medium tempo that never accelerates too much to mask the youthful energy in the songs.

Download: Punk Band, Diary Of A Teen Tragedy, College
For the fans of: Weezer, The Thermals, Bayside,
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.03.2011
Asian Man Records

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