Album Review: Stephen Pearcy – Smash

By Ryan Falla

Glam rock isn’t a genre that has explored and stretched its various elements to create a rich and diverse sound that’s lasted through the ages; yet with Stephen Pearcy’s fourth solo album ‘Smash’ ,he shows us why glam rock doesn’t need reinventions to find success. Founding member of Ratt, Stephen Pearcy looks to deepen his solo repertoire with a record that reminds you why Stephen Pearcy and Ratt rocked the radio waves 30 years ago, occasionally rearing their heads into modern radio as well.

‘Smash’ doesn’t do much to try and blend the seemingly worn genre with modern elements in hopes of catching fire, instead playing to the kitschy elements of glam rock to create something familiar yet new. What pops with ‘Smash’ is the diverse glam rock tones Pearcy delivers; playing off lipstick glam with ‘Lolipop’ all the way to Dr. Feelgood-esque heavy metal glam with ‘Dead Roses’. But a few of tracks fly a little too low under the radar with their simple radio approach, dangerously leading the album off with an underwhelming made-for-radio track ‘I Know I’m Crazy’. Luckily, ‘Smash’ circumvents this issue by stripping the made-for-radio approach immediately with the second track ‘Ten Miles Wide’; it’s not a wildly standout song, yet its genuine sense of ’80s nostalgia leads to something much catchier.

Many people would claim that ’80s nostalgia rock is a genre that doesn’t hold much acclaim due to a lack of integrity. While this may be the case with many acts that try to get parents to relive their teen years with their children, ‘Smash’ maintains a sense of integrity by exploring the glam rock genre instead of exploiting it. While there are a few tracks that have the issue of blending into each other, what does end up standing out is very much worth your time; even the typical angst-ridden “she makes life difficult” track is on this album in ‘Jamie’, and is a surprisingly competent track.

One track that absolutely needs mention is ‘What Do Ya Think’, which dodges the easy to hit nostalgia lenses to create a track that legitimately stands up to some of the best tunes to come out of the ’80s. This track stands out mightily from the rest of the album, bringing together with some serious Jane’s Addiction vibes morphed with Guns N’ Roses to create a beast of a song.

Photo Credit: Joe Schaffer

Seriously, the entire album is worth it just for this one song and there is still enough quality content outside of the phenomenal track ‘What Do Ya Think’ to keep the album afloat. Stephen Pearcy’s album ‘Smash’ avoids hitting the “nostalgia act” wall by offering up an album that, for the most part, keeps away from the made-for-radio approach that both birthed and killed the glam rock genre.

The fact that this isn’t a “new” approach to glam rock or an obvious play on nostalgia is apparent, this is simply an album that does what Stephen Pearcy does best: writing damn good rock/metal with no shame for what it is and no attempt to make it different.

‘Smash’ doesn’t try to be an ’80s record, it’s just a man working within his wheelhouse to do what he does best; writing stellar music that just happens to find its home within the ’80s glam rock family.

Rating: 8/10

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Record Label: Frontiers
Release Date: January 27th 2017

Track Listing:
01. I Know I’m Crazy
02. Ten Miles Wide
03. Shut Down Baby
04. Dead Roses
05. Lollipop
06. Hit Me With A Bullet
07. Rain
08. Want Too Much
09. What Do Ya Think
10. Jamie
11. Can’t Take It
12. Passion Infinity
13. Summer’s End

Stephen Pearcy links: website | facebook | twitter | instagram