Review: Smoking Popes – This Is Only A Test

Asian Man Records

Released March 15 2011

Reviewed By Tyler Hess

Back in the 90’s there was a punk band by the name of Smoking Popes that were a fairly well known name in the punk scene, but broke up around the time that lead singer Josh Caterer converted to Christianity, which led him to form another project called Duvall.  A few years later Smoking Popes made a comeback, but with the lyricist and singer having a new perspective on the world, with vocals that are oft compared to Morrissey.

This Is Only A Test is the follow up to 2008’s “Stay Down” and only the second regular full length release from the band since their reunion.  The album is very similar to FM Static’s Dear Diary thematically, as the pop punk album delves into ideas of the thoughts and emotions that can run through the mind of a high schooler, which can make the album a bit immature, but on purpose, as they are obviously quite far from their school boy days.  What wasn’t lost on the band at any time is how to make an insatiable need to hear the album over and over again, with pop hooks that has had me listening to it twice a day for a week without hesitation or dismay.  Standout tracks (in my mind, literally) are “College”, a track about not wanting to go that career route, and “Mono”, which describes missing out on a date due to illness.

The lyrics may not be as directly “spiritual” as Caterer’s side project or solo work on the surface, but it is vastly different from what the man would have produced before his conversion, and certainly a fun release that I won’t hesitate to recommend for the pleasing sonics of pure pop punk.

Grade: 5


  1. Wish We Were
  2. How Dangerous
  3. This Is Only A Test
  4. College
  5. Punk Band
  6. Freakin Out
  7. Diary of a Teenage Tragedy
  8. Excuse Me, Coach
  9. I’ve Got Mono
  10. Letter To Emily

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