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Smash Mouth 

Smash Mouth (Interscope)

One day, Smash Mouth is going to release a killer greatest-hits album. Anchored by "Walkin' on the Sun" and the ubiquitous sports-product-promoter "All Star," that set will feature some of the chewiest bubblegum pop made at the turn of the new century, if not ever. Too bad the band has yet to make an original album worthy of the singles. On its third disc, simply titled Smash Mouth, the California-sun-soaked quartet frolics on familiar sandy beaches, piling on plenty of Farfisa organ fills and sing-along choruses for the TRL kids to shake to. And like the previous albums, it really clicks only when things get obvious.Smash Mouth isn't a subtle band. So the style breakers here -- "Out of Sight," "Disenchanted" -- come off as slightly ambitious bids for grown-up respect that fall flat within the setting. The songs themselves seem more haphazard this time around, too. Singer Steve Harwell is still the cheeriest pop singer of his generation, all teddy-bear tough and amiable, and the band has never been more focused and consistent. But there's nothing on Smash Mouth as immediately likable as "Walkin' on the Sun" and "All Star."

Still, there are a handful of tracks ready-made for that future best-of. "Holiday in My Head" and "Pacific Coast Party" work the Smash Mouth formula hard and impeccably. The swirling strings that open the latter are a particularly blissful and chic touch, recalling disco fever at its most elegant. And their cover of Neil Diamond's "I'm a Believer" (from the Shrek soundtrack) makes for a fun closer, leaving the party doors open for yet another installment. Its placement on the Smash Mouth boxed set 10 years from now is all but guaranteed.

More by Michael Gallucci


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