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A Date with the Smithereens (RCA)
The Smithereens

By Kevin Gibson

The last time we left the Smithereens, they were fading out to the tune of violins and cellos and crooning something about too much passion. It was nice, but a far cry from "Blood and Roses," the dark, bassy hit from the New York foursome's first full-length album.

It would appear the Smithereens have come full circle. Almost everything on Date is a deep, dark secret or a wry look at the world in which we live. It is, in short, the Smithereens at their best.

The single, "Miles from Nowhere," not only breaks the formulaic heavy-guitar, heavy-hook trend of first singles from the last three albums, it dares to not be commercial at all. Throw in rock masterpieces "Point of No Return," "Love Is Gone," and "Everything I Have Is Blue," and you'll hardly believe this is the band who teamed up with Belinda Carlisle on a ballad.

Two of the best tracks are buried deep on the album. "Gotti" is an enigmatic plea for the release of New York's notorious gangster, while "Sick of Seattle" parodies the grunge rock craze with stiletto-sharp accuracy. The signature ballad, "Afternoon Tea," is perhaps the best since "Lonely Place."

Bottom line: This is a good record. Just don't expect candy and flowers.