The Smiling Strangers – All The Way

The Smiling Strangers – All The Way / 2007 QCGS / 12 Tracks / /

While it wasn’t a major release by any stretch of the imagination, I believe my first experience with The Smiling Strangers came not when I received the copy of “All The Way”, but was when I picked up a copy of “The Big Indie Comeback, Volume 3”. Their track “Smile On Your Face” was present here, and made it a necessity that we receive a copy of “All The Way”. However, the band has seemingly tightened up their sound further since “Smile On Your Face”, and is miles away in terms of quality from their work on their previous albums, “Dangerous Times” and “Spaces Graces and Smiling Faces”.

The band has taken their time together and continually reinvigorated and refined their sound in the years since they have formed as a band. “The One I Hold Tonight” is one of many solid tracks on “All The Way”, and it shows The Smiling Stranger as an act that can unite both older and new genres of music. This means that a Maroon 5 / Ben Folds approach is linked inexorably with a Chicago and Journey style of rock music, to make an unique style for The Smiling Strangers that will net them a large fan base. The tenderness held in the vocals and piano lines during “The One I Hold Tonight” shows that they hit on all affective levels – they impress with their intensity, their intricate arrangements, and their emotional content.

“The Hard Yards” is another stand up track. The vocals provide something to hold on to, while the guitars provide the foundation for the vocals to work off of. The inclusion of a backing chorus at points during this track provides the cherry on top of The Smiling Strangers’ work during this part of the track “The Hard Yards” has an infectious hook, and will ensure that individuals will be signing along for weeks and months after the disc slows to a stop. “Passionate Angels” provides individuals with a sense of exactly how powerful the vocals are during this disc. There is little more to bolster the vocals during this track than the vocals themselves; while there are light hints of the band during the track, the duty to create the harmony during the track is really left up to the vocals here. The vocals stand up to this challenge, and The Smiling Strangers show that every part of their band is strong. Without a missing link, the act is able to rocket forward to the end of the disc.

Top Tracks: Passionate Angels, The Hard Yards

Rating: 7.7/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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