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Boomkat Product Review:
Phoenix, Arizona psych-rockers The Smiles And The Frowns are the latest band to grace the roster of Manchester label, Akoustik Anarkhy. Despite the considerable scope of their diligently retro sound, The Smiles And The Frowns are but a duo, and this release arks an eponymous debut that's brimming with references to vintage acid-pop and childlike melodic departures. 'Cornelius' is a stunning early entry, winding through a delightful, '60s-styled tune, the like of which somehow sounds instantly familiar. You can well imagine Syd Barrett being a major inspiration to the band here, particularly given lyrics such as: "Cornelius plays for spiders and fleas/Butterflies and monkeys/And they can't help but dance to his song". The recordings are always intriguing and match the mood of the songs; fashioned in a home studio full of old-fashioned equipment, the likably DIY stylings bring to mind contemporaries like Sam & The Plants as much as this band's 1960s forebears. 'Mechanical Songs' (apparently about "a marionette trying to escape the puppet world") even comes across as vaguely Ariel Pink like in all its washed-out, eccentric glory. At twenty-four minutes and eight songs, this isn't the most extended of long-players, but each track feels like a standalone entity with plenty of care and attention poured into it (for instance, 'March Of The Phantom Faces' stands alone very nicely, resembling a soundtrack to a haunted circus). Recommended.