The Planet Smashers - The Planet Smashers (Cover Artwork)

The Planet Smashers

The Planet Smashers (1995)


The Planet Smashers strike an amazing balance between classicism and innovation on their debut album, juggling all of the quintessential elements of punk-ska without feeling boring or derivative. Founded in Montreal in 1994, they released the self-titled record two years later on their own Stomp label. Over the years they managed to stay independent and build a modest following but failed to really break out. They've released five more full-lengths since then but have failed to keep the magic they had on The Planet Smashers.

This album has everything you would find in the textbook definition of "third wave punk-ska": clean horn riffs, gritty vocals, jaded and sarcastic humor and the occasional punk attack all blend together here in perfect ska fashion. But the most amazing thing about this album is that it doesn't overplay any of the single elements and their sound manages to stay fresh and interesting. The horn riffs are clean and punctuating but not poppy and bubblegum. High tempos and punk breakdowns keep the energy up without venturing into metal territory. Smart, sarcastic and totally jaded lyrics add a remarkable sense of humor without getting wacky, zany or just plain silly like some bands (*cough* Aquabats *cough*). Songs poke fun at everything from relationships and job interviews to mainstream and alternative culture but never seem preachy or high-handed. Simply put, everything on The Planet Smashers comes together and it all works.

Some may label the Planet Smashers as unoriginal, but it is anything but. True, the Planet Smashers do stand on the shoulders of giants, but they infuse their own sound into everything they borrow, keeping this album fresh and exciting all the way through.

Bottom line: everything on The Planet Smashers -- the horns, the vocals and especially the smart and observant lyrics -- come together in exactly the way you'd expect to create one of the better third wave albums ever released.

[Originally reviewed at Man vs Ape]