Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Album Review: (smog) – Rain On Lens


This is one of the more frustrating Smog/Bill Callahan albums. Released in 2001, with the addition of parentheses () it finds them/him moving away from the country sound of the Puke EP. The title track is a short intro which creates a pleasing foreboding atmosphere, but what follows is a series of ‘plod-along’ tracks which are fine in themselves but a whole album of them gets very repetitive. Each track kind of melds into the next one, and most of them go on far too long at 4 or 5 minutes, with little variation and no choruses.

As I said, there’s nothing wrong with any of these mechanised, grinding tracks, but a whole album of them gets a little dull. Dirty Pants is one of the stronger tracks, kicking off with what sounds like a metal hammer knocking in some nails and then some low-slung growling guitar, but this one actually evolves with a nice violin part in the middle. Lazy Rain isn’t bad either, a Velvet Underground style tale of walking home in the early hours to be greeted by a waiting (waking) female.

Probably one of the best things about this album is some of the titles. Live As If Someone Is Always Watching You isn’t quite as good a song as it is a title, it’s a little more at ease, more stripped down than some of the others, and final track Revanchism I can only surmise is something to do with ‘revanche’ which I gather is French for revenge. This track is almost jaunty, with some horns, and a couple of stops and starts which makes it at least more attention grabbing than the rest of the album.

If this was the first Smog album I had heard I probably wouldn’t have pursued any others.

Ideal circumstances to listen: On a, yes, rainy day walking down a dark stifling tunnel.