2) Plastic Smile
3) He Said, She Said
4) Better Dead Than Wed
6) The Dead Don’t Care
7) Brown Eyes
8) Nowhere To Run
Following up on the awesome A Nightmare On Seventh Avenue (Stereo Terror review here) Darrow Chemical Company surpassed everyone’s expectations, even their own, by taking on a much bigger life than was expected. Several tours and a stint on Warped Tour turned Darrow into a full-fledged band with a following, and so it was not only necessary, but expected that a follow-up be released. With Plastic Smile the question was if the band could capitalize on their success thus far.
Plastic Smile takes everything that made Darrow Chemical Company great on A Nightmare On Seventh Avenue and takes it to another level.
Through the Intro and into Plastic Smile you are given a band that wants to make music, and is damned good at it. If you can listen to this song and not want to get up and get pumped, you aren’t living right.
He Said, She Said is another catchy as all hell tune and also showcases the growth you can hear in J.V.‘s vocals. From the very first time that I heard the band one thing that has always stood out to me is J.V.‘s vocals. They are truthfully unlike any other vocalist I myself have ever heard, and it helps separate Darrow from the pack of other bands coming up and making their music heard. I honestly couldn’t imagine any other vocalist being able to work with the music that the band produces. While the vocals are a huge part of the sound, it would be insane to not give credit to the rest of the band, including Carlos “Loki” Cofino (also of Gotham Road and Mister Monster) on guitar and backing vocals, Christopher Dean also on guitar and backing vocals, Mikey Wasted (also of Dead N’ Wasted) and drummer Matt Johnson (who also plays with Michale Graves). The more you look at it, you could safely call Darrow Chemical Company somewhat of a supergroup.
The band next revisits my favorite track of theirs, Better Dead Than Wed, and somehow makes the song even better. I won’t focus too much on this track as it was already covered in the review of A Nightmare On Seventh Avenue, but if the band was going to update any of the tracks from that album, they definitely made the perfect choice.
W.H.B. is straight up one of the most infectious songs I have heard in my 29 years on this planet. When you hear J.V. singing about going back to the early days and reminiscing about sitting around with friends watching TV and hanging out, you can feel the true passion coming through. The requisite “whoa-ohs” are ridiculously catchy, and I can’t see anyone hearing this song and not wanting to scream along. Out of all the songs in the Darrow Chemical Company catalogue, this is the one I will be most thrilled to hear live if I ever get the chance to catch the band.
Following up on such an infectious song is always a difficult task, and while not as ridiculously catchy as W.H.B., the band does present another great tune in The Dead Don’t Care. The song, even at roughly two and a half minutes manages to build itself up to the ending, then leads right into Brown Eyes. The band fills the quota for a song about a bad relationship while also keeping the song catchy and accessible.
The album closes out with Nowhere To Run, a song which I honestly have to admit I didn’t dig when I first heard the album, but upon repeated listens, it has grown on me tremendously. I feel that the first half of the album is so strong (the one-two punch of Better Dead Than Wed and W.H.B. is damned near flawless) that the second half suffers a little. Not to say that it is bad, because nothing could be further from the truth. Most bands would kill to have something this strong, which is a testament to both how great the first half is, as well as the talent and cohesiveness of the band themselves. As I mentioned already, Nowhere To Run grows on you, and is now one of my favorite tracks by the band throughout their entire discography.
Darrow Chemical Company took a huge step forward with the Plastic Smile album, announcing themselves as a band to be watched and respected. The fact that the band subscribes heavily to the DIY method speaks heavily to their dedication, as just about everything the band does is done by them, and them only. J.V., Loki, Mikey, Matt and Christopher are going to be a force to be reckoned with going forward. If you ever get the opportunity to see the band live, make sure you get out and take advantage of the opportunity as there are many of us who don’t get that chance. As for me, I will be up here in Canada listening to the music, and patiently awaiting the band’s next release.