To those not wholly familiar with Sonny Smith’s 100 Records project, it might immediately appear as though Smith is curating a bunch of singles from a band called the Fuckaroos or Zig Speck & The Specktones. Hilarious as that would be, 100 Records Vol. 3 instead marks the final edition of a song collection that was written and recorded under fictitious guise. Make no mistake, though, as this collection wears Smith’s characteristically classic acoustic songwriting style right on its sleeve.
The aforementioned personas were originally crafted out of a novel Smith never finished. Ironically, this album lacks a coherent narrative. But it does not suffer. Instead, 100 Records Vol. 3 is Smith’s opportunity to revisit his work, experiment with an otherwise unbecoming sound, and tell stories that aren’t as heavy on his soul (as he did on last year’s Longtime Companion).
Smith incorporates a similar style of self-deprecation on “Half Boy Half Girl”, but the screeching organ sounds that bring this otherwise simple song to life have a reggae tint not found anywhere else in his expansive catalog. “Year of the Cock” rearranges one of the more memorable tracks from Longtime Companion, trading the emphatic bass of the original for the more acoustic style of Jackie Feathers. In this vein, 100 Records Vol. 3 provides a spontaneous musicality that trades up for spacious, unadulterated sound instead of his typical polished pop-rock.
It’s entertaining to hear an artist write something in jest, removed from the self-serious nature surrounding many of Smith’s indie-rock peers. And to match, the manner in which 100 Records was produced is very much the way it should be consumed: as a blistering romp in rock history, a simple-hearted tale in love and lust set to guitar picks and toe taps.
Essential Tracks: “Year of the Cock”, “Half Boy Half Girl”