Smash Mouth – Astro Lounge (1999)

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Courtesy of Interscope Records

Astro Lounge, released in 1999, is the second full length album by Smash Mouth, a pop rock band originating in San Jose, California. Originally consisting of Steve Harwell on vocals, Kevin Coleman on drums, Greg Camp on guitar and Paul De Lisle on bass, the band’s most famous hit, “All Star,” reached number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition to being featured in movies such as Shrek and Mystery Men, the band also created many hits, including “Walkin’ on the Sun” from the band’s 1998 album Fush Yu Mang, and “Then the Morning Come” from Astro Lounge.

Smash Mouth formed in 1994 when Harwell and Coleman decided to form a rock band. Harwell had originally been part of a California rap group called F.O.S. Coleman knew of Camp and De Lisle, and upon introduction to Harwell, they decided to form the band. The band first attained publicity when its song “Nervous in the Alley” was played on a local San Jose radio station and, shortly after, Smash Mouth signed to Interscope Records, releasing Fush Yu Mang in 1997. Astro Lounge is an energizing album full of hypnotic melodies, accompanied with retro beats and solid vocals. The album converted Smash Mouth from a typical ska punk band in California to a more pop-cultured, mainstream rock sound.

“Then the Morning Comes,” Astro Lounge’s ninth track, opens with a prominent guitar riff, a quick “Good Morning” from a robot-sounding voice, and leads into Harwell’s distant vocals. The mixture of instruments is confusing, yet entertaining, and the fast pace is surprisingly relaxing as the guitar and piano mix with other interesting, futuristic noises. With lyrics such as “The way that you walk / It’s just the way that you talk / Like it ain’t no thing / And every single day is just a fling / Then the morning comes,” listeners can construe a story of a man who loves a girl, yet is afraid she will leave him before the next morning.

“Come On Come On,” the album’s thirteenth track, begins aggressively and energetically with drums that are soon accompanied with Harwell’s hushed voice. The drums are loud and forceful, the guitar matches perfectly with Harwell, and the chorus is catchy, which is repeated multiple times throughout the track. The lyrics are relatable—“Walking out of the door I’m on my way can you tell me just where I’m going / Occupational skills would you give me a clue what to do cause my minds in motion”—and tell a story about a man searching for his purpose in life.

The album’s hit track, “All Star,” commences with Harwell’s voice, sounding as if he is telling a story. Only joined by a distant guitar and eventually by drums, the lyrics unravel as if Harwell is taking listeners back to his rap days. The extremely catchy chorus drives the song, and funky record scratching and other entertaining noises make the song a requirement to listen to in Astro Lounge. The lyrics address imperfections—not only with individuals, but also with the world itself. “Didn’t make sense not to live for fun / Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb” and “all that glitters is gold / Only shooting stars break the mold” are words that Harwell chants in the popular track.

Today, Smash Mouth continues to tour and consists of Harwell on vocals and piano, De Lisle on bass, newer members Michael Klooster on keyboards, Jason Sutter on drums and Sean Hurwitz on guitar. The group released its newest album, Magic, in September of 2012 and still continue to provide audiences with its signature pop rock sound that listeners have come to love.