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The Sinking Ship

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Album Review

After all these years, Smoke or Fire obviously feel comfortable in their musical skin, although with life, not so much so, as the themes that escape from This Sinking Ship make clear. Kicking off with "What Separates Us All," an exposition on the U.S.'s myriad divisions, SoF explore the damage inflicted by a variety of causes on both society and the individual. "Irish Handcuffs" looks at the latter, sharply etching the wasted days and lives lost to drink, while "Breadwinner" intertwines the personal and the political. Although anger laps at this Ship's bows and angsty waves crest over its sides, it's exhaustion that finally breaks the mast and sends the ship sinking to the sea floor. This is particularly apparent on "I'll Be Gone" and "Melatonin," both of which shudder with aching futility, while "Little Bohemia" runs aground on apathy. Of course stress and anger are exhausting, the outrages taking place daily inevitably dishearten and disgust, sapping what strength we have left. SoF were already weakened by their grueling tour schedule, and the lyrics reflect their bone-weary state, but not the sharpness of their pens. None of this, however, is evident in the music, which remains full of life, spitting with vim and vinegar, as well as anthemic choruses and powerful melodies. Nor is this the sound a band churning rote-like away in a rut, for the songs are wonderfully eclectic, from the splendidly poppy "The Patty Hearst Syndrome" to the regal hard rock-goes-hardcore of "Shine," across to the storming melodic punk of the title track and over the glowing Wave-flecked "Folding the Pages." Their ship may be sinking, but SoF burn so brightly here, rescue surely is imminent. A fabulous album, whose weighty lyrical discourse is perfectly ballasted by the invigorating music that surrounds it.

Customer Reviews

Sink The Mainstream Ship

SoF put on a good show on their leg of the NOFX tour. Watch them live, the drummer is slammin'. Better than whats out there these days on the radio thats for sure

Highly Recommend

I usually do not write reviews but this album is so good it deserves ones

Superb record.

This album is basically a perfect punk rock record. If I could give this more than five stars, I would in a heartbeat. No matter how hard I try, I can't name a single track I skip over when I'm listening to this, and for me, that's rare. The one time I saw them they were opening up for Anti-Flag a few years back in Revere, MA, and even then I thought they were hands down the best band on the bill, and that was when I still liked Anti-Flag. If you have a chance, do anything you can to see this band live, and if you like catchy as hell punk rock in it's purest form, do yourself a favor and buy this record.

Biography

Formed: 1998 in Richmond, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Smoke or Fire is an emo-tinged post-hardcore band that occasionally shades into rootsier material along the lines of Wilco or Marah. The band originally formed in Boston in 1998, when western Massachusetts natives Joe McMahan (lead vocals and guitar) and Jeremy Cochran (guitar) met New Hampshire boys Ken Gurley (bass) and Nick Maggiore (drums) as students at Boston University. Originally calling themselves Jericho, the quartet released their debut album, When the Battery Dies, in 2000. Bailing out...
Full Bio