The Smoking Popes – Into The Agony (Asian Man Records, 2018)

I first heard Smoking Popes back in the early nineties, when “I Need You Around” was featured in the movie Clueless. It wasn’t until I saw drummer Mike Felumlee had played drums on Alkaline Trio’s 2001 record “From Here To Infirmary”, I that I decided to dig into the Smoking Popes’ discography a little more. Smoking Popes are a four-piece band from Chicago, formed in 1991. In their almost 30 year career, they’ve shared the stage with huge names such as Jawbreaker, Morrissey, Green Day and more.  

1994’s “Born To Quit” along with 1997’s “Destination Failure” are two records that I regularly go back to, so I was more than stoked to see that they had a new record coming out. 

“Into The Agony” is everything that I wanted it to be. Ten tracks of catchy pop punk, and the first record to feature the original line up of The Caterer brothers and Mike Felumlee since 1998. 

From cracking opener “Simmer Down” through to politically charged alt-country ballad “Melting America” (featuring guest vocals from Flatfoot 56’s Tobin Bawinkel), and closing with crooner “When Will I Smile Again” which is effectively “Pretty Pathetic 2:”, this record is most definitely a return to form for the Chicago legends.  

Stand Out Tracks: Simmer Down, I Can Feel You, Amanda My Love, Someday I’ll Smile Again

Rating: 8/10
FFO: Weezer, Jets To Brazil, Jimmy Eat World

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