In Rotation: Beat the Smart Kids - Broke AgainPhil Collins - August 8, 2016
The first full-length album from Chicago's Beat the Smart Kids continues to deliver on the fun, bouncy ska premise set up on their first EP. "Chemical Reaction" is one of the band's catchier songs. It is also one of their weightier songs lyrically, tackling gentrification. "Emoticons" flips into a horn-led, skank-inducing fervor in its second half, as the lyrics lament the technological fixations of modern society - a favorite theme of the band's. Beat the Smart Kids seem to prefer the animated future of 1980s Transformers cartoons on "Ruby Crystals." See also, the video for "Ruby Crystals."
"Go to Bread" offers the jokey qualities of ska bands like Reel Big Fish on a mostly instrumental song that spares words to name off types of bread. If you are looking for fun, two-tone style ska, Beat the Smart Kids have it down. With members from Still Alive, Waste Basket, The Damn Tracks and Indecisives, these guys have been around the block a few times. Their sound gets more fully explored through the 12 tracks on Broke Again. Keyboards show up more prominently than they did on Call in Sick, a welcome addition to the recordings.
Stream the album below. Beat the Smart Kids play Midwest Ska Fest at Double Door on August 14. This still is happening at Double Door, for those following the venue's eviction trial. There are plenty of great ska bands, local and otherwise, playing Midwest Ska Fest this year, including The Crombies, Run and Punch, Evil Empire, Bumsy and The Moochers, 4 Aspirin Morning and more. Beat the Smart Kids also play the revived Skappleton fest near Appleton, Wisconsin on August 13.