For Iceland, the Potatomen have reimagined themselves as a Smiths cover band. This isn't the Smiths via American punk, à la Smoking Popes. This is full-on, straight-up, peg-your-jeans-and-pine-for-love Smiths worship. "Drunken Staircase" and "Laughed Till I Cried" are bouncy, melancholy masterpieces of jangle pop revivalism, complete with warbling lead vocals and nimble Johnny Marr guitar tricks. Alongside this U.K. pop fetish runs 1950s teen rock influences ("Running Low," "Geoff"), which merely boils Morrissey, et al. down to their original muse. (There's also a fun nod to glam with the crackling "1973.") All of this hero worship leaves very little room for the rambling country influences of 1995's Now, but the Potatomen are so thorough in their emulation, Iceland will make any recovering British indie fan all teary eyed. The only misstep here may be a late-album cover of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." Yes, they've finally gotten around to actually covering the Smiths. But it's at this point that the Potatomen run out of energy. Vocalist (and Lookout! honcho) Lawrence Livermore's fake accent slips, and the liberties taken by the guitarists sound misplaced. Maybe the track fails because, without it, Iceland would masquerade effectively as an ambitious Rough Trade release from 1984 that had previously been lost to history.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus