By: Eric G.
Smog a/k/a Bill Callahan is no stranger to self-indulgence or self-parody, but he would never admit it. He never even cracks a smile. Take the cover art of Knock Knock, for example. It looks like a bad metal band’s album cover complete with demonic calligraphy and bolts of lightening, but the music is stark, fragile, and depressing with Callahan’s brittle voice resonating loudly in the mix.
Smog’s last release, Red Apple Falls, was a difficult journey to say the least. Almost completely without melody or refrain, Callahan experimented with varying degrees of emotion and musical architecture. Knock Knock is a return to the world of the musical. He incorporates a children’s choir for a chilling effect on “No Dancing” but then turns around and does just the opposite on “Hit The Ground Running” with its Velvet Underground-esque guitars and easygoing demeanor.
If you give it a chance, Knock Knock has a lot to offer. Callahan has reigned in his songwriting skills to create the disturbing atmosphere this record imbues. His lyrics range from morose observations to devastating accounts of love lost: “I’m left only with love for you/you did what was right to do/and I hope you find your husband/and a father to your children” (“Left Only With Love”).