The Planet Smashers - Mighty (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Planet Smashers

Mighty (2003)


Don't get me wrong: I do love this band, but I really didn't think the Smashers had this album in them. "Mighty" is musically the most interesting album of the Planet Smashers' career and features some seriously accomplished pop songwriting. For a band whose staples have been danceable party music, the slow moments and genre experimentation on this disc come as a bit of a surprise. It's a welcome surprise though, as this will easily stand as one of the best ska albums of 2003.

The relaxed, rhythmic title track starts the record off on a far more mature tone than some of their past efforts. The bouncy "Explosive" features Neville Staple of The Specials. His toasting fits perfectly with the song's political observations and works well with the strong backing vocals that pepper the verses. It's truly a great track and a worthy single. "Direction" sounds like nothing the band has done before. The rhythm section bubbles along as the horns entirety drive the chorus. Matt Collyer's vocals soar over the innovative sound. "Keep On Coming" is another lower-key track that channels the band's punchy energy into a satisfying reggae groove. The gentle pop of "Recollect" continues to cover new ground for the group. The same can be said about the mid-tempo, country-tinged "Can't Stop."

Of course, there's a healthy serving of the band's trademark third wave ska. Always featuring the Collyer's skittering upstroke guitar, tongue-in-cheek humour and strong sing-along choruses, songs like "Missionary's Downfall," "Never Going To Drink Again" and "Opportunity" are sure to become staples of their live show. However the fun light-hearted material is countered with enough mature and diverse songs to keep "Mighty" grounded. Horn players Jo Begin and Leon Kingstone really shine throughout the album and more often than not are able to propel the songs to new levels with some skilled hornplay.

"Mighty" is so satisfying because it shows progression and clever writing in a genre that's usually steeped in tradition. The Planet Smashers never tried to tone down their roots influences during the ska-punk craze, so now that they're an older and more experienced group they can reap the fruits of that decision.