Album Review: Smash Fashion – “Rompus Pompous”
Word association time readers – if I used the phrase “LA glam band” to describe Smash Fashion to you, I’m guessing the reaction would be a rolling of eyes and a collective thought of “oh great, another bunch of Crue/G’n’R clones with all the imagination of a photocopier”.
On this occasion though, you’d be wrong. Smash Fashion may hail from the City of Angels, and their sound is undeniably glam, but it harks back to a good decade or so before Sixx and Slash were household names, namely the Bowie/Bolan era of platforms and glitter. And as quite a few bands in recent years have proved, this is fertile ground for getting your influences from. So how do this lot measure up then? Pretty well is the answer.
The truth is, while the 70s glam stomp is definitely the key influence here, as witnessed to best effect on the Sweet style stomp of Teenage Demon and Ugly Thugly and the positively filthy T-Rex style smut of Proper Way To Eat A Muffin, there are other forces at play as well, and it’s this variety that makes Rompus Pompous (great album title as well) one of the better efforts I’ve heard this year. The vaguely psychedelic Soft As A Rock (Helium Head) and the Hendrix style guitar pyrotechnics on Wolves of Wonderland definitely show a band thinking outside the box, while elsewhere there’s nods to everyone from the muscular stadium-glam of Starz (lead-off single Runs In The Family) to the poppy psychedelia of early Enuff Z’Nuff (Tender Was The Hook).
It all ends in fine style as the epic seven minute closer Smiles And Daggers struts in to an epic Lady Grinning Soul style piano intro (courtesy of none other than Spiders From Mars keys man Mike Garson) through a supremely singalongable Beatles style middle section into a blissed out psychedelic outro. It sums up just what a great and varied album this is, and rounds things off perfectly.
Given that this band have been around for over a decade now and Rompus Pompous is no less than their fourth album, I'm amazed I hadn't heard of Smash Fashion before this album. However, hearing this has definitely made me keen to check out what I've been missing - it's a real treat of an album which is supremely varied, but never loses sight of its main focus. Give it a spin, you might just like it.