A horrible hack

Beauty Pill

The Unsustainable Lifestyle

Year Released: 2005
Format: CD
Label: Dischord
 
Reviewed by Kunal Nandi on Jun 13, 2007
I consider Smart Went Crazy's 'Con Art' to be the American equivalent of Radiohead's 'OK Computer'. Both contained defiantly independent attitude smoothly combining with mainstream-baiting tendencies, resulting in fearlessly experimental and inventive indie that wasn't odd just for the sake of it. The difference turned out to be that Smart Went Crazy didn't sell bazillions, but that hasn't stopped Smart Went Crazy main-man Chad Clark from forging ahead with his new project. Initially more of a floating collective of musicians based around Clark and people such as ex-Most Secret Method drummer (and incredible artist) Ryan Nelson, writing and recording in an ad hoc fashion, their first effort, 'The Cigarette Girl From The Future' EP was a dazzling showcase of subtle, unique, brilliant pop, as was the follow-up 'You Are Right To Be Afraid'. Coagulating into a more solid line-up has made them a more cohesive unit whilst allowing the freeform musical tangents to remain.

Beauty Pill (notice the lack of a 'The') is the most perfectly judged, intellectual, chamber indie-pop-rock music, that looks forward as well as back to the classic pop standards. Perhaps even sideways too. These twelve songs have a measured, stately grace about them at times, while other up-tempo, wall-of-sound moments are infused with the DC-hardcore roots of their label-mates. Opening track 'Goodnight For Real' has something of the Krautrock about it, others have the full band rocking out, some are simple vocals accompanied acoustic guitar and multi-instrumentalism and studio trickery abounds. The thing is, this variety isn't done merely for the sake of it, but instead is done to extract the maximum feeling from every second. Alternating girl / boy vocals are underpinned by touching instrumentation and Nelson's awesomely expressive drumming. It's rendered even more interesting and dark by the inclusion of scathing, yet artful, rhyming couplets that complement those glowing melodies when really they shouldn't.

Hopefully they will receive the recognition that Smart Went Crazy so sorely missed out on, as this band is the whole package, right here, right now. This is way too good to be left ignored in some punk rock ghetto, afforded occasional spins by Dischord geekazoids like me. They could well be the most important band in existence today.

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