Don Smooth - Art of Seduction

Don Smooth
Art of Seduction

Never judge a book by its cover. For example, when I turned over the cover of this CD and looked at the picture of two people stood side by side, one holding his chin thoughtfully and the other with hands clasped behind his back, I couldn’t help but imagine a dodgy arty band pushing out a load of incredibly clever but boring songs with a deliberate lack of direction or appeal (their name is ‘Don Smooth’ for Pete’s sake!).

I popped the CD to the bottom of my pile and reviewed a whole bunch of other stuff, followed by the next batch that came through, and then I even thought about taking a holiday to delay the disk from getting near my CD player. However, I’m absolutely skint and so found myself with a fully alphabetised CD collection, no washing up, and all my socks paired and displayed in a neat spectrum arrangement in my drawer. So, finally pushing my misgivings to one side I stuck the record on and soon proved myself to be the fool that I am.

With a fast beat and fast-paced guitar strumming, ‘Tick Tock’ gets treated to some distorted vocals before breaking into a chorus that pulls back the pace and pumps a spoken-word line out in the style of Brian Molko – a comment that can only be reinforced by the slightly rearranged Placebo-esque chorus line of the next song, which states ‘Without Me You’re Nothing’ (although this time sounding more like an American rock band).

The highly political ‘Tomorrow’s World’ is a different sounding creature altogether attacking corporations, countries, science, religion and even beautiful women via a rock-rap track with an angsty sounding chorus. This does come across in a way that suggests that they really are a bit upset about nearly everything, but when you put so many gripes in to one record it can sound a little cheesy. However, the equally political ‘An American’ makes an appearance a bit later on with plenty of focus on just the one issue!

Definitely a candidate for release as a single, ‘Decadent Honey’ mixes Linkin Park style beats and MC vocals with a bit of a catchy sounding chorus. This is another example of a really nice bit of bass, which this time has some subdued guitars hovering around over the top. The building guitar layers in the solo fade away in time for the big double-chorus ending. 

Up next, ‘Take a Ride’ is the biggest disappointment on the record. This track is a little bit shabby with an odd vocal effect and a clanky bass line that sounds like a dodgy cover-band playing Queen’s ‘Flash Gordon’ theme. With a good number of eight or nine efforts on the record, this one could have been left on the subs bench for a b-side appearance later on in the game.

‘Love Machine’ has some similarities to the previous track, as does ‘Who’s the Don’, but both songs have a better bass line and more interesting melody with a certain ‘J’Taime’ husky whisper going on. ‘Hate’ brings back some of the driving sounds that popped up at the beginning of the record and also features some of those distorted vocal moments, but a thundering drum beat and surprisingly jangly sounding chorus, which along with the bass guitar and drums, steals the show in this track. There are moments where the MC style verses could be a little more Mike Shinoda and a little less Neil Tennant, but the same vocal also takes on the melodic side of things and does a good job of those.

Elements of the Lost Prophets and Linkin Park squeeze their way into a collection of songs heavily dominated by a Placebo influence, which seems to come from the ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ and ‘Black Market Music’ brace of albums.

There are even a few tracks like ‘Who’s the Don’, ‘Art of Seduction’, and ‘Study in Smooth’ that sound like the remixes Placebo used to pop on their b-sides amongst their famous cover-versions. However, this is a collection of tracks that I really really like.

Written by Smith on

Stuart 'Saur' Smith was a prolific writer for The Mag throughout the magazine's lifetime. He combined a day job of temporary office jobs in London with a nightlife of trawling the capital's music venues looking for talent. As well as writing about music, he was a session musician who featured on a number of singles in the 90s. Today, Stuart is a Chief Writer for Phonotonal.
Stuart Smith

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