The third full-length album from the Smithereens, 11 (a title that refers to the classic 1960 Frank Sinatra film Ocean's Eleven), was something of a letdown after the solid, tough-pop perfection of their first two albums, Especially for You and Green Thoughts. While their previous sets boasted strong material from front to back, 11 is dotted with filler. And while "A Girl Like You," "Blue Period," and "William Wilson" are all great songs, many of the others sound like by-the-numbers pop tunes cranked out to pad the set to full length. Producer Don Dixon made the most of the dark and mysterious undercurrents of Pat DiNizio's songs and Jim Babjak's guitar, but Ed Stasium gives the band a solid, professional sound that is sadly lacking in personality; there's nothing wrong with the way the album sounds, but there isn't anything terribly engaging about it, either. As a band, the Smithereens still sound rock-solid here, but as an album it was sadly indicative of the creative ups and downs that would mark their recording career from this point forward.
by Mark Deming