Friday, October 8, 2021

Duff Review: Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem: "Second That Emotion" EP

The cover features the single's paper label listing the artist, title, and record label (Badasonic).
(Review by Steve Shafer)

This new EP from the John Roy-driven Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem musical collective is a terrific preview of their upcoming--and eagerly awaited in these parts--album of covers (which will feature their versions of David Bowie's "Let's Dance," Echo and the Bunnymen's "Killing Moon," Junior Byles' "Fade Away," Sam and Dave's "When Something's Wrong with My Baby," Edwin Star's "25 Miles," Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man," amongst others). Smoke & Mirrors Soundsystem's Second That Emotion EP (7" vinyl/digital, Badasonic Records, 2021) highlights two cuts off the covers album and includes their own "The Great Divide" (from SMS' excellent pandemic lockdown debut album Strength in Numbers--read my review of it here), plus its great new companion dub by Nico Leonard).

As advertised, there's a sweet rocksteady version of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "Second That Emotion" with the formidable Rebecca Jade on vocals, and devastatingly good take on Tears for Fears' dark and disturbing 1983 synth pop hit "Mad World" ("I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad/The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had") with The Hot Mess' Tori Roze at the mic. The ominous swells of brass at the edges and wistful trombone solo at the end (by Buford O'Sullivan!) are particularly wonderful and effective touches. "The Great Divide" is a fantastic duet of sorts between Mark QMaxx Lyn (ex-Slackers) and Dunia Best (Dubistry) that delivers an anti-racist plea for unity in a country that desperately needs it (Dunia sings in the chorus: "With a strength, joy, and love/We can all rise above"; Lyn toasts in response: "You’re on one side and I am the other/I’m not your enemy, I’m just your brother"). Mad world, indeed.

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