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Smile

4.2 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

In the mid-1980s, this Minneapolis band shared tavern stages with fellow hometown punk bands like the Replacements and Soul Asylum, dishing out a then-unique blend of country-rock that pre-dated "alt country" by a decade. More than 15 years later, their sixth album is also their second without cofounder Mark Olson. Led by Gary Louris, the newfangled Jayhawks play pop music in the truest sense of the word, and Smile is another trademarked batch of their heartrending laments: hooks that you can't get out of your head ("I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"); melodies snatched off of '70s AM radio ("Mr. Wilson"); epic harmonies from the Big Star handbook ("What Led Me to This Town"); and even a modest attempt at Midwestern hip-hop ("Somewhere in Ohio"). Produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd's The Wall), Smile is a tad slicker than 1997's Sound of Lies. But like its predecessor, this record's charm rests in a handful of dazzling ballads ("Better Days," "A Break in the Clouds" and "Broken Harpoon")--polished, yes, but never overbearing. --Scott Holter

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Smile
  2. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
  3. What Led Me To This Town
  4. Ohio
  5. Break In The Clouds
  6. Queen Of The World
  7. Life Floats By
  8. Broken Harpoon
  9. Pretty Thing
  10. Mr. Wilson
  11. Wildest Dreams
  12. Better Days
  13. Baby Baby


Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 4, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: May 4, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00004SUGH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,028 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bob Ezrin, legendary producer for Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss and Lou Reed among others, touches this album with a subtle production that suits the album's subdued sound and superb songwriting. Every song offers a chorus thick enough to sink your teeth into, with lonely piano or guitar accompaniments that just leap out of the songs and hook your ears. While every song showcases this group's writing talent, tracks like "Smile," "Ohio" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" exhibit heavanly singing and background vocals that sound very much like the Traveling Wilbury's at times. The music is mature and atmospheric, the songwriting is hot, the vocals are always confident, and this is yet another great Jayhawks release. With the acsessible pop feel to this record, I cannot imagine it disappointing anyone, new fan or old.
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Format: Audio CD
A significant departure from their earlier work, Smile offers a more produced and mainstream sound. Purists of their work might be disappointed and argue that they sold out their original sound. I disagree.
A worthy comparison might be looking at the growth of REM from the roots flavored rock of their earlier albums to the breakout hits Green and Out of Time. In my opinion, Smile makes this transition more successfully than REM by appealing to a new audience without giving up the intensity and creativity of their music.
"I'm Going To Make You Love Me" is a fun pop song that might lose its appeal over time but, other songs like the title track, "Somewhere In Ohio", and my personal favorite "Baby, Baby" are as energetic and spirited of tunes that the band has ever produced.
The slower, folksier, "What Led Me To This Town", "Break in The Clouds," and "Mr. Wilson" provide the perfect balance by showing the band and its most poignant.
A true follower of the Jayhawks will still see the underlying themes of their previous work. This album is far from a sell out, in fact it may be their best yet.
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Format: Audio CD
"Wake up/Put your shoes on/Take a breath of the northern air/And rub those eyes/Genuflect beneath the starry skies". Thus opens Smile, The Jayhawks' sixth album in 15 years, their definitive masterpiece. It is also the new millennium's best album so far. Smile is so brimful of strong melodies and convincing work that it almost redefines rock music as we know it. The Jayhawks today is in my humble ears the best rock band on the planet. The 13 songs that constitute Smile are with a few exceptions absolutely remarkeable, whether we're talking about the melodies, lyrics, arrangements or production. There are also harmonies you wouldn't belive. Smile is one of those records you really NEED, that you must live with and enjoy. And if you don't like it, there is something wrong with you, alright?
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Format: Audio CD
A strange match of artist and producer but, opposites attract! Drum machines, tape loops and multi layers actually make this record something a little different and quite interesting. Still showing their roots but moving forward in the pop realm (similar to Sound of Lies) these songs are solid, catchy and sung beatifully (as usual). Anyone who didn't 'get it' on the first listen needs to put this record back in the CD player, sit back, open your ears, and forget about focusing on the country twang riffs that you've grown to expect from this band. They can still do it, it's just that now it's time for growth. And, they're keeping it interesting by not rehashing the same old sounds.
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Format: Audio CD
I discovered the Jayhawks through 'Smile.' It's one of my favorite albums ever, by anyone -- all I can say is it turns up in my cd player all the time. It's sort of like Hank Williams, Lennon-McCartney, Bob Dylan and (at times) Jimmy Page all jammed together to create something completely new and unique. I've since gone back and have heard all their albums, and they're all great. It's interesting to see how the band has evolved. This is a band that should have a much, much (MUCH!) broader audience. Can't recommend it highly enough. Or you could, you know, keep listening to the crap that's on the radio...
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Format: Audio CD
'Sound of Lies' was such a completely underappreciated masterpiece of an album. The serious fans that grew up with rock and roll recognized it, but had to be content chalking up yet another notch to unfairness. Gary's lyrics, voice, and guitar never was more honest and cutting - from the opening chords of 'the man who loved life' mixed with hope and invitation ["won't you take my hand"] thru the despair of trying but never hitting the limelight in 'dying on the vine' to the admittance of the inevitability that some dreams maybe won't come true in 'sound of lies'. Some of his fans seemed alienated by the powerpop arrangements, but others (especially those of us who knew his roots) immediately understood this was a personal record that needed to break formula - or it wouldn't be honest. Gary was being true to his heroes, his friends, his band, and himself from start to finish. Sound of Lies was Gary's grand exploration of mid-life crisis - baring his soul while silently imploring all of us to hang in there, to not give up, and to stay true - to give us (and him) the strength to continue. In summary, a brilliantly crafted and powerful pop album. So, the verdic on the followup? Breaking all the rules again, Louris and the Jayhawks and Ezrin have stayed true to this (friend and) fan by providing a tapestry of surprises, pop references, and powered up fun. Smile really shows at each turn how much they are student's of rock and roll and reinforce how influencial and studied they'll be in rock history. First impressions are sometimes deceiving when it comes to records, so I'm always careful about jumping to conclusions. But the first few spins have not disappointed these ears and my intuition has a big star kind of smile. I'll write again when this one has sunk in some more, but be assured, if you don't buy 'Smile', you are missing out on some extraordinary music by a truely great band!
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