Review: SMILING – Devour (2021)

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SMILING are a psych-pop- rock quartet based in San Diego, California comprising Annie Shaw (vocals, guitar), Josh Pollock (guitars), Mark Nelsen (bass, backing vocals) and Sonny Pearce (drums). Their debut album `Devour` is out this month.

The album launches with `Strange Attractor` with churning guitar riffs and pounding drums and vocals that are sprinkled atop and around. A quite addictive opener. We have a perfect dreamy summery pop song with `Lighthouse` that could sit alongside tracks from 90`s indie bands such as The Primitives and Altered Images.

`The Well` is driven along with some pounding drums, noteworthy guitar chords and violin strings allowing the vocals free range to roar and hold back as and when required. There`s a much more repetitive beat with `Other Lives` which gives it an interesting power pop flavour.

`Forgetful Sam` has a delightful edgy texture about it with some blistering guitar riffs along route. A song that seems to have possible romantic overtones. We have a quite ethereal lead in to `Do What You Want` which almost seems like the quiet before the storm. It then bursts into life midway through. There some quite curious guitar riffs towards the latter end of the number.

Title track `Devour` is an assertive fast paced offering which musically does seem to overwhelm at times. A laid back sleazy bassline leads us into the mesmeric `FPS` which may allude to frames per second but who knows. It has a kind of psychedelic vibe about it at times.

`Take Your Time` has a quite entrancing opening and seems to bloom as it develops. There`s a quite intoxicating feel with orchestrated strings and pounding drums leading us through this enthralling journey. We close out with `Duvall Gardens` which is a delicate almost unearthly trippy composition where you can just sit back and let it flow over and around you.

`Devour` was an interesting listen which began in a kind of retro indie pop mode became a lot heavier as it progressed and ended up on a more out there, psychedelic ambiance. The band seem to all on the same page musically and Annie has a quite variable vocal range so it`ll be interesting to see how this band evolves.

Rating 8.5/10

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