Smash Mouth

Summer Girl

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After four albums and six years with Interscope, Smash Mouth returned to independent status in 2006 for their fifth album, Summer Girl. The labels may have changed but the sound hasn't: the group is still a quintessential summertime rock & roll band, trafficking in surf guitars, Farfisa organs, and sunny hooks, all designed for the beach. The band knows this and they're unapologetic -- and why shouldn't they be when they're as good at it as they are? They've always had their sound down, even on such forgettable albums as 2003's Get the Picture?, which made them good background music even when the songs didn't stick. Fortunately, the songs on Summer Girl do stick -- in fact, the band has their best set of songs since their 1997 debut, Fush Yu Mang. Not that Smash Mouth is doing anything different -- this is still good-time party music through and through; even when things slow down for the acoustic "Right Side, Wrong Band," it sounds like a fireside singalong -- but the hooks are so big, they're instantly memorable, and they're delivered with the enthusiasm of a band on their first record, not their fifth. By this point, such a difference may only be heard by the faithful, but for those who have stuck by Smash Mouth for all these years, they'll be delighted that the band has produced a record as catchy and confident as this.

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