Smoke - White Williams

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Williams' ostensible depthlessness, like that of his forebears, is itself only a façade, and Smoke offers plenty to discover across repeated listens--particularly the way in which he tweaks his own voice, melting and reshaping it like the models' Technicolor "tears" on the album cover.
  2. The world probably doesn't need a new Beck, but Smoke proves there's one floating around, just in case.
  3. Smoke pulls off the neat trick of seeming weightless and disassociated but never slight, playful, yet neither inconsequential nor silly.
  4. Smoke is his first off-center classic. [Fall 2007, p.77]
  5. Smoke never sounds dated or rehashed--instead, it's a fresh, consistently creative, and consistently listenable debut.
  6. Williams finds himself on the respected electronic label Tigerbeat6, raising expectations even higher. He more than meets them, navigating ably through sugary tracks tempered with a dark streak.
  7. On Smoke, his blog-buzzed debut, he offers a tuneful, mellow bedroom pastiche of trebly early-’80s punk funk, spirited, rhythm-rich worldbeat, and post-Beck white-guy R&B.
  8. Smoke is a pleasant pastiche of David Bowie's "Berlin" period--with a lab-coated synth freakout at disc's end for all those Morton Subotnick fans out there. [Dec 2007, p.188]
  9. As with most other first releases, though, it's a a bit inconsistent in places, but all in all, Smoke is a fun and sometimes great debut from a young artist.
  10. There’s wit and meticulous posturing in the hills: we’ll be waiting right here for tomorrow. After all, there are enough immediately delectable grooves in his eleven tracks today.
  11. 60
    Williams' voice is weakly anonymous, Verlaine minus the venom. But his obsessive recreation of his heroes' studio tricks compensates. [Aug 2008, p.113]
  12. 60
    As groups like Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem are making analog programs ring clear as Marshall stacks, Williams makes them sound mysterious, creepy and sexy again--even when geeking out on a cover of Bow Wow Wow’s big hit, 'I Want Candy.'
  13. Williams should inject more urgency to his sound. [June 2008, p.148]
  14. 60
    For all the squiggly melodies and bumpy computer beats, however, Smoke's strength is his spacey chameleon voice. [Dec 2007, p.126]
  15. There’s a few really strong tracks studded throughout, and an equal number of good ones, so the experience is better on the balance than not.
  16. 54
    It's shame, however, that the goofy aspects of the album distract from its sonic frame, as Wiliams is not only a talented producer but also has a keen ability to weave masterful pop instrumentation. [Winter 2007, p.94]
  17. While his contrived sonic and visual aesthetics do much to explain the thinness of Smoke, they do not justify it.
  18. As he runs out of ideas, he becomes progressively arch, as if trying to convince us that the demo-level standard of his work is deliberate, and thereby adding another level of mild irritation.
  19. Williams' songs are extremely repetitive, relying on MAX/MSP texture for their variance but proceeding at such a pace that it's easy to zone out, a tendency exacerbated by Williams' apparent three-note vocal range. [Fall 2007, p.77]

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