Life After Football

The Smith Street Band

Life After Football

“I don’t come here with solutions/I come to you with ideas,” sings The Smith Street Band vocalist/guitarist Wil Wagner on album opener “A Conversation With Billy Bragg About the Purpose of Art.” In many ways it’s a statement of intent, an indication that the life-affirming punk-rock sing-alongs contained on the Melbourne band’s sixth album will, in the tradition of their previous studio records, be accompanied by Wagner’s thoughtful, at times self-eviscerating lyrics. Part therapy session, part self-flagellation, on “Elvis” he’s “an alien”; on “Black T-Shirt” he’s “poison in a black T-shirt”; on “Nightmare” he’s “scared of everything”; and on “Everyone Is Lying to You for Money” he’s been prescribed Lexapro because it will “help with the mania.” It’s not all self-examination—the title track is inspired by a storm that almost destroyed the band’s studio, while “I Don’t Wanna Do Nothing Forever” reflects on the anxiety and excitement of entering a post-COVID world. Throughout it all, hope comes in the shape of the band’s rousing punk anthems, making good on Wagner’s promise in “A Conversation With Billy Bragg About the Purpose of Art”: “I was poured into this body/For just one important thing/Nothing’s ever gonna kill me/If I can play guitar and sing.”

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