Music Reviews

Smoking Popes

The Party’s Over

Double Zero/Suburban Home

How sad and depressing. The Party’s Over is the last batch of songs ever recorded by the Smoking Popes, just before they broke up, way back in 1998. What’s even more depressing is the fact that Phil Bonnet, the man who produced the record, died shortly after the sessions were over.

The Party’s Over is actually an album of covers, but they’re covers of the likes of Willie Nelson and Judy Garland. They’re delivered in the Pope’s signature rockin’ manner. The title track is classic Smoking Popes, with a steamroller, shuffled drum beat, grainy and warm guitars and the buttery voice of Josh Caterer at its very crooning best. I’m not sure who originally wrote this song, but it sounds like the Popes own it, completely.

I’d say the most captivating song here is “I Wake Up Crying.” It’s one of the most straightforward and simple songs on the album, but there’s something incredibly unique about the two guitar chords in the verse of this song. They produce a sound that seems as if they are cars instead of guitars, driving the listener off into the sunset. As I write this, I am smitten with this song; it could be the best, most enjoyable thing I’ve ever heard the Popes record.

Overall, this album is both superb, and incredibly depressing. The Smoking Popes were a very unique band who, while achieving some minor success with “Need You Around,” never quite received the accolades they truly deserved. It sucks immensely to get a “lost sessions” album like this, five years later, only to find that the band is actually better than ever. We all know that the Popes are long gone, but thankfully we have these last goodbye kisses to savor, for the very first time.

Suburban Home Records:

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