The Smoking Popes have been around forever and the fact that the word “agony” is in the title of this album couldn’t be more appropriate, not because the record is bad, quite the contrary, the album is amazing. The 10 songs here are filled with gut-wreching pain and loss, making the songs all that much better.
The veteran punk band keeps their big sound, jagged guitar riffs and signature lounge style vocals all in place for “Into the Agony” but it is a decidedly mature album. Songs like “Simmer Down” still possess the angsty fire fans want to stick around but there’s also the driving power of “Amanda My Love” with signature pop punk starts and stops and sad sack lyrics. Taking that mood further you have “Wish I Didn’t Love You” “Someday I’ll Smile Again” and “When You Want Something” that extend the ravenous mood of this gem of a record. Almost ironically inserted in the middle of these songs is a cover of the old standard “Get Happy” that is delivered with such a twist that it almost seems like vocalist Josh Caterer is trying to convince himself with the lyrics. On a slight diversion in subject matter the Popes get political on the song “Melting America” that has the fire and bile to be one of the better protest songs of the year thanks to the help of Flatfoot 56’s Tobin Bawinkel who croons the duet with Caterer.
The Smoking Popes have been making records for close to 3 decades now and have released what is easily one of the top punk albums of the year.
Key Tracks: “Simmer Down” “Amanda My Love” “Melting America” “Someday I’ll Smile Again”