The Planet Smashers, recognized as the “Kings of Ska” in their hometown of Montreal, Quebec, released their classic album Life of the Party in 1999. The band’s third album, released by Stomp Records, is one of the most influential third wave albums to strike the scene. Without the Planet Smashers, there wouldn’t be many promising local ska scenes; they have influenced Green Division (Pickering, Ontario), Offbeat in Suburbia (Livingston, New Jersey), the Naked Citizens (Orange County, New York), Tip the Van (central Connecticut), and many others. Life of the Party influenced all of these bands by being different and more diverse. This album features the Planet Smashers’ famous upbeat third wave sound, and some laid back tracks, which you can see yourself lying on the beach listening to.
The opening track “Life of the Party” doesn’t just set the tone of the album, but also lives up to being the title track; it represents the dominant sound on the album -- upbeat, fun, and catchy. The next few tracks aren’t great, but give that more relaxed and laid back vibe. Life of the Party reaches its "first" peak with “Surfing in Tofino,” marking the return to their trademark third wave sound, which explains why it’s one of the few crowd favorites from this album. The next song, “All Men Fear Women” is, in fact, not true. This song is about what every man worries about when in a long-term relationship. After that, the album reaches yet another very high point. “You Might Be…” is one of the songs that impresses you with the Planet Smashers’ horn lines; it sounds as if there are four horn players rather than just two. Afterward, the Planet Smashers show their first instrumental of the album, “Trouble in Engineering,” which resembles their two-tone roots.
The next song isn’t just a crowd favorite, but also my favorite. “Super Orgy Porno Party” demonstrates what I love to see in bands: Non-serious songs with catchy choruses and fun horn lines. “Whining,” the next song, keeps the momentum going and describes the mindset of every lazy teenager: “Whining for what I want, because trying is just too hard.” The next couple of tracks, “Wise Up” and “No Matter What You Say,” are okay but somewhat forgettable. “Kung Fu Master,” the second instrumental, is one of the coolest instrumentals that I’ve heard, not just because it has that Japanese sound of a Kung Fu master, but because you can also hear some of the future third wave horn lines; this song reminds me most of the well-respected Big D and the Kids Table. “Holiday” reveals what every guy thinks when they don’t see their girlfriend. The chorus, “Holiday away from you,” describes the happiness of getting away from the girlfriend you see everyday. “Save It” closes the album with a more acoustic-like track. It’s a smooth rock-steady song, which is the best way of closing this classic album as it makes the listener wanting more.
Life of the Party is one of the dozen elite albums in the third wave scene. Along with Good Luck by Big D and the Kids Table, Keasbey Nights by Catch 22, and any Toasters and Bosstones album, Life of the Party helped shape the ska scene in the new century. The Planet Smashers are more influential than most listeners think. Listening to ska bands like Big D and the Kids Table and Reel Big Fish, you can clearly hear a resemblance to the Planet Smashers. Of course, the three bands didn’t rip off each other, but you can sense that they were influenced by each other. Life of the Party is considered by many fans to be the band’s best effort, which I’d have to agree with.