To say that fans have had to wait for the fourth Smoking Popes album of original material is an understatement. The beloved
Fortunately, the new material is worth the wait. All of the band’s signature qualities are in tact – the crooning, Morrissey-esque vocals of Josh Caterer, the pristine pop melodies, the straightforward lyrics and the full guitar sound. Many fans will already be familiar with some of the album’s strongest cuts, including opener “Welcome to
The beautiful, saccharine sweet “Little Jane-Marie,” presumably written for Caterer's daughter, is another highlight. With lines such as “perhaps we could split a thousand cheerios, or just sit around and suck our thumbs,” the song could easily be way too precious, but it ultimately comes off as likeble, innocent pop. This kind of pure sincerity is something the band has mastered, and is actually a refreshing break from legions of bands trying too hard to be cool.
Listening to “Stay Down” provides no indication that the Popes ever left. The album is an honest, comfortable addition to the band’s catalog, and is bound to please not only old fans, but anyone who can appreciate a good pop hook.Check out the Popes live June 28 at the Lakeside Festival in Crystal Lake and June 29 at the Belmont Arts and Music Festival.