Folk-punk six piece Smokey Bastard are releasing their third album: ‘Back To The Drawing Room’ on the 13th of November and are currently touring the UK. With a similar style to bands such as Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly but with a modern twist, this album is certainly something a little out of the ordinary.
The contrast between the raw, aggressive tone of the vocals and the often banjo-led instrumentals on opening track: ‘Archipelago’ paints a rather bizarre picture yet works surprisingly well. Flowing rather naturally from here is ‘Rats’, a fast number
with an almost theatrical quality at times – it is however very similar to the previous track.
‘Baba Yaga’ is one of my favourites on the album. It tells the story of the mythical creature of the same name that is often featured in folklore. With a varying tempo and an often accordion driven rhythm, it is an excellent example of how unique this band is. Following on is ‘Faster Than Light’. It does seem a bit disappointing compared to ‘Baba Yaga’ as the vocals seem detached from the rest of the song but this is soon forgotten upon hearing the fifth track – ‘Screens’. With particularly effective use of harmonies, it builds up to an impressive crescendo with lead vocals reminiscent of those of Serj Tankian of System Of A Down. The purely vocal short track ‘South Australia’ only serves to emphasise the vocal talents on display. After this comes ‘Rotter’ which marks a clear change within the album, often using short, abrupt lyrics yet flowing well with an almost orchestral melody at points.
One of the stand out tracks is ‘Alcobatical’ – it’s uplifting melody contradicts the dark subject matter which is suggestive of changing for the better following a life of alcoholism. The mood is lightened by ‘Jester’, where most is sang by all vocalists together, giving a sense of unity that continues into ‘Can Of Worms’. Ending on this loud, complex track, the listener is made fully aware of the diversity of the album.
It has to be said that folk and punk will forever be a rather odd combination and ‘Back To The Drawing Room’ confirms this – but in the best possible way. Despite already having a strong fan base, I have a feeling that this new material is likely to gain Smokey Bastard many new fans.