Textbook - Smoke Em If You Got Em (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Smoke Em If You Got Em (2003)

Next To X

In an unexpected fashion a girl has recently entered my life. She's adorable, smart, motivated, refreshing and just flat out makes me feel good about things. When I hear Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em by Textbook I get a similar jittery butterfly feeling in my stomach. It's nothing new, I've met plenty of girls before and we've all heard our share of alt-pop-rock-emo bands, but like her, it's stimulating and brisk.

Chicago is blessed with these types of bands. In fact if you're familiar with that scene at all you'll recognize a few names from a few bands that have passed on. The man behind the lyrics and most vocal duties on here is Dave Lysien, who you could recall was half the power behind pop-punk greats Not Rebecca. The gentlemen who helped ait Lysien in that band's name may also ring a bell, Tom Daily (Counihan), he also did sometime with the Smoking Popes. Maybe you've heard of them.

The opening trac kboasts a little edge in "Wish I Could Hide," as slightly distorted guitars pinch a charmingly sung chorus pointing towards the title, "I wish I could hide from suicide." The harmonics of Lysien's voice are delightfully positioned and the catchy guitar work refuses to stall as a few casual solos are thrown in the latter few minutes. The soft rock appeal flows into "The Think Of You Interstate" while a country rhythm is delivered on the inconsolable "Railway Station." The piano that graces "Chalk" feeds the band the same box of cereal the Get Up Kids had for breakfast during their early recording sessions.

The immense diversity of the record can be credited to the nine endowed musicians that partake in the created sounds. Four guitarists bounce back and forth creating the mixture that bounces from simple emo melodies to relaxing country tempo, even a little punk on "Rosenwinkel." The variety supplements the record well, despite the calming voice pouring out of the speakers it's as if a new band appears on each track.

Ok, so maybe it's not as great as cuddling till five a.m. on a summer night, but just because this genre is becoming played out it doesn't have to be boring. Textbook add some spice into the scene and make Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em so much more than another Jimmy Eat World or Brandtson.