Smash Boom Pow

Smash Boom Pow must be a patient band. How else to explain their sitting on the recently released EP 2’s songs for more than six years. Six! Imagine. . . But this patience should not be confused with apathy or lethargy; they’ve kept busy in the years since, releasing a smattering of singles, EPs, and a full-length record, 2014’s Do You Feel.

Brothers Ulysses and Zane Coppard form the core of Smash Boom Pow, and were joined at Chinatown Sessions on a dreary evening in late March by touring bassist Adam Stothard. In the confines of the Chinatown loft, it’s clear the older songs have matured alongside the band’s approach. The trio led off the evening with ‘The Best Days Are Nights’, EP 2’s opening track; and one that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Japandroids release, reflecting the yin-yang of exhilaration and anxiety that is early-adulthood. It’s interesting to see the band return to some of their formative ideas in these new-old songs, their “first stab(s) at making indie rock music”, as they put it. Though their newer work, like 2016’s Higher Power of Desire, is perhaps more dense and self-assured, layered with stacks of keys and synth bass, the raw enthusiasm and sense of creative wonder of the songs off EP 2 is contagious, and translates to their live performance.

On ‘Way Too Much’, released as a standalone single in the second half of 2017, Ulysses makes it clear that while their early work has its charm, he has grown as a lyricist and a vocalist in that time. The band always possessed a discerning ear for the huge chorus, but ‘Way Too Much’ sees the band just as interested in packing meaning into their verses. Performed live, Ulysses lets the lyrics tumble over one another haphazardly, with just enough time and breath to make each line pop. One syllable more or less and the song sounds as though it could come to a crashing halt—not that it would; Zane is a seasoned pro at this point, one of Victoria’s most fascinatingly disparate drummers. But that recklessness, the “will-they-or-won’t-they”, imbues the song with a kind of rhythmic suspense. It’s a thrilling sense of impending danger that’s less apparent on their earlier work.

Smash Boom Pow closed their set at the Chinatown loft with the chiming, arpeggio-laden ‘Sol’, a song from EP 2 that the band released in 2017 as a standalone single. Their return to these songs with hundreds of shows under their collective belts, their approach more measured but their enthusiasm intact, is a compelling reminder that growth and maturity have their own critical but less-heralded space in rock music. The band are currently at work on their second full-length record.

Words by Rob Walsh

Photos by Jasper Miller

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Emily Sutherland