Smog's 1996 album picks up from where previous album Wild Love left off. The cover is quite similar to Arab Strap's debut, or is it the other way round? First track You Moved In is filled with foreboding strings and tinkling piano, along with carefully plucked guitar. Bill Callahan sounds less than thrilled at the prospect of the unidentified "you" moving in! Somewhere in the Night is more uptempo. At just over 2 minutes long is driven by a slightly off tune acoustic guitar and handclaps, and works as it only would for Smog.
Lize is a slower, well-constructed song based around a slowly picked electric guitar, as Callahan puns "they don't make Lize (or lies) like they used to". Then Spread Your Bloody Wings is darker, with a muddier, less clear melody, a bit more of an ambient piece.
After a short interlude, Everything You Touch Becomes A Crutch is faster before stalker centrepiece, All Your Women Things. It's just short of seven minutes and is fairly epic, along similar lines to Red House Painters' Medicine Bottle, both musically and lyrically. It's the age old tale of love gone bad, Callahan painstakingly etches out every detail of all the aforementioned "women things" which used to be scattered round his room. The killer line is at the end, when we discover "it's been 7 years and the thought of your name still makes me weak at the knees".
A total departure for the following track, Whistling Teapot, which Bill Callahan sings in a totally different voice, stretching towards falsetto at times. Could almost be a different singer only for the fact that the track drips with loathing. Four Hearts In A Can echoes Lize in melody, but adds strings and is more wistful and yearning. It would have been a nice ending but this is Smog, so the final track, Hangman Blues is a suitably stark, barely-there song, filled with pauses.
one was important in music scene back then and no doubt some sort of breakthrough for Bill Callahan. It is very beautiful and the start of what turned out to be an incredible journey with one of the greatest and most original talents music has seen.
Obsession on record. Some of you might be appalled, some apathetic, some rubbing their miserablist hands in glee. But wait, this is a smog album, so the most relevant question needs be is there any songs on it? And the answer, thankfully, is yes. Unlike his recent output where Bill has taken his love of Lou Reed to unfathomably tuneless lengths, for all its bleakness, 'Doctor' is perhaps his best set of songs. For the first time the production is spot on and we are left with most probably the only real contender to be the 90's verson of 'Sister Lovers' or 'Berlin'. Yes, there are some possible minor criticisms about the authenticity of the despair, but lets not get all uptight about this. There is enough attention to detail, and gallows humour, here to satisfy any fan of those two records.
If you already know bill Callahan and smog, you probably already know this album. A real grower with repeat listens. This is grown up music, that you will return to, not pop that you listen to for a couple weeks and move on.