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[Off The Record]
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Like any good party band, Smash Mouth know their share of cover songs: in the past, they’ve scored big with cheery rehashes of War’s "Why Can’t We Be Friends" and ? and the Mysterians’ "Can’t Get Enough of You Baby." On their third album, they pick another sure-fire favorite in the Monkees’ "I’m a Believer," with singer Steve Harwell’s signature rasp and a few thick guitar riffs the only elements that distinguish it from the original.

Not long ago, however, Smash Mouth made a key contribution of their own to the good-time-rock songbook with "All Star," and there’s more California fun where that came from on the new disc. "Pacific Coast Party" is beer-commercial disco at its shiniest, with the appropriate handclaps and string flourishes and lyrics about skipping work to cruise the highway. The band drag out the ’60s garage-rock organs on the opening "Holiday in My Head," but the rest of the album is just as likely to feature ’80s-style synth squiggles. Their hardest-rockin’ new-wave move, "Your Man," channels the Cars and ZZ Top and also hints at their pop-punk origins. Underneath all the bells and whistles, Harwell shows more lyrical depth than your average family-themed rocker — Smash Mouth aren’t meant to be taken too seriously, but they’re not easily written off, either.


Issue Date: December 6 - 13, 2001

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