When the Jam moved up from punk upstarts to mod statesmen in 1979, the British kids turned to other mod outfits to satisfy their craving for everything well-dressed and retro. While the Chords followed in the Jam's footsteps, the three other main contenders for the mod followed different musical paths: Secret Affair were a magical blend of punk, soul and pop with a mild dose of prog; the Lambrettas were straightforward power pop; and Squire were a mix of all of the above and more. In fact, if the mod scene hadn't existed, Squire would have still made brilliant, timeless records, no matter what was going on around them. While only releasing one full-fledged album (Get Smart!), singer/songwriter Anthony Meynell would embrace the '60s wholeheartedly while releasing a batch of singles that still managed to sound contemporary while exposing the many influences he wore on his sleeve. When Get Smart! was released in 1983, fans were astonished at the album's mixture of power pop, horn-soaked mod, Motown-influenced stompers and beautiful acoustic ballads. Meynell had already shown that he was able to write a catchy tune, but Get Smart! upped the ante ten-fold. Squire's sound had solidified under his guidance and the obvious nods to past heroes blended into the background while Meynell re-created mod and power pop in an age when synths ruled the airwaves. Every inch of this album is filled with melodic hooks, love-lorn lyrics, and an exuberance that was all but missing from music then and now. It's innocent and charming but also mature and commanding. It lacks the power chords that made the Jam hometown punk and mod heroes, but it's more immediate than much of Weller's pretentious posing. Meynell's songwriting is at its prime on Get Smart!: just listen to "It's Too Bad," "Take A Look," "Every Trick in the Book of Love," and "You Don't See Me" for proof. The album's mix of upbeat pop and midtempo ballads helps to keep the album flowing at a smooth pace, never standing still and becoming monotonous and boring. While the album does have a few tracks that are brighter than others, this is a brilliant example of an album as a whole. Remember the first time you heard Rubber Soul, Revolver, Headquarters, or All Mod Cons? Remember when it felt like one great complete piece of work and not a mix of various studio recordings? Well, Get Smart! is that and a whole lot more. It's pure brilliance in every sense of the word.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Steve "Spaz" Schnee