One for Friday — Close Lobsters, “What is There to Smile About”


Thirty years ago, in 1988, Close Lobsters released the EP What is There to Smile About. It was part of a very typical strategy to take every measure to ensure not too much time passed between new recordings for bands storming college radio. The Scottish band, signed to the upstart Fire Records label in the U.K., had commanded eager attention on the left end of the dial with their debut album, Foxheads Stalk This Land, released in 1987. In the fraught land of college radio popularity, where the endpoint of graduation meant that approximately one quarter of a station’s staff would turnover every year, there was a unique urgency in staying current. Around the one year anniversary of their first full-length, Close Lobsters dropped six new songs of inspired, jangly Britpop.

Again produced by John A. Rivers (who’d recently help guide Love and Rockets to a highly unlikely major hit), the EP is arguably more satisfying than either of the full-lengths Close Lobsters put out during their initial swing. A shorter overall running time is well-suited to the energy of their songs, which often surge to life as if the individual members were simultaneously roused from a classroom nap and want to prove they were paying attention all along. And their roughhouse cynicism also benefits. Fewer songs align with the sense that they simply couldn’t be bothered to do more. Why bother, right? The EP’s title — and its title cut — lay out the philosophy just fine.

Listen or download —> Close Lobsters, “What is There to Smile About”

(Disclaimer: I’m under the strong impression that What is There to Smile About is out of print, at least as a physical item that can be procured from your favorite local, independently owned record store in a manner that compensates both the original artist and the proprietor of said shop. It looks like it might have shown up on a “best of” type collection released about ten years ago, which I can highly recommend without even digging deeply into the contents. Or go buy something else from the record store. It’s good for your soul. Although I believe sharing this track in this space in this way at this time falls under the legal principle of fair use, I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove the file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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