May 23, 1988 12:00 PM

The Smithereens

No, this isn’t what was left of the Smiths after Stephen Morrissey blew up the band last year. The Smithereens are a solid quartet from northern New Jersey. They have a deceptive style that is like the comedy of Steven Wright or the late Jackie Vernon. All these delightful things are being expressed, but in a voice that’s almost catatonic. The Smithereens consistently present nifty, driving songs, quite involved by pop standards. Most of the presenting is done in the sallow tones of lead vocalist Pat DiNizio, who sounds like Joe Jackson doing a desultory Al Kooper imitation. (Yes, students, there was a singer for Blood Sweat & Tears before David Clayton-Thomas.) Then again, if it weren’t for DiNizio, there wouldn’t be a Smithereens. The principal songwriter, he can create spitfire rockers like The World We Know and Drown in My Own Tears or neatly turned pop like Only a Memory, which brings to mind a thoroughly modern Buffalo Springfield. When you try on the Smithereens, you get the whole DiNizio package, warts on the adenoids and all. Still, especially on this second LP, that’s a major bargain. (Enigma/Capitol)

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