To call Throw Me in the River a hyped release is on par with calling Nelson Mandela pretty socially active. With the Melbourne four piece’s track record of three sell out national tours this year alone (including their outstanding set with Violent Soho), The Smith Street Band have managed to sculpt a massive cult fan base who practically fell into fits upon hearing that the follow up to the much beloved Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams was on it’s way. And now it’s finally here, from the minds of the prodigal sons of Melbourne and DIY punk mastermind Jeff Rosenstock.

And damn does it measure up.

Intro track ‘Something I can hold in my Hands’ finds Smith Street doing something that they’ve never done entire career: play quietly. Thus marks the beginning of The Smith Street Band’s most ambitious album yet. While the reserved spots are few and far between, the change in dynamics really brings out frantic intensity when it starts to engulf the track. The jangly guitars that earned the lads their folk punk stripes are still present on Throw Me in the River alongside a cavalcade of Doors organs and string sections. There’s a strong Bomb the Music Industry! vibe, but considering who’s involved that’s no surprise.

Theme wise this album is miles more mature than their other efforts, but it’s to be expected with how much they’ve been through this past year. Songs like ‘East London’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Die Anymore’ highlight the struggles front man and possible superhero alter-ego Wil Wagner has gone through trying to find himself when home grows harder to define. Meanwhile ‘The Arrogance of the Drunk Pedestrian’ is all about finding friendship through the hardest times and losing those friends when all is said and done. It’s something they’ve addressed many times, particularly in Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams. But on this album the heart on their sleeve is bleeding like someone just hacked apart an artery.

With the speed that this launch tour sold out (before anyone had heard so much of a peep from this new album) it’s safe to say that The Smith Street Band had a lot to live up to with Throw Me in the River. But despite all the expectation for a Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams two, Smith Street have created one of the most original punk records of the year. Let’s just hope they keep themselves up at the summit as long as possible.

8.5/10

Cleatus Glob

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