album of the week: Good Boy Smoke - Lem
words: Indigo Baloch
Good Boy Smoke is all the songs your heart sings on late-night, summer drives on the highway with your high school best friends. The windows are down, the hot air is rushing in, and your hair is whipping around your face—stinging, but in a sweet way. You can’t stop grinning and laughing, and you’re hoping the moment never ends. With references to “Space Jam” and “Wayne’s World,” this album is all the nostalgic love of the ‘90s in your best friend’s basement, surrounded by gas station candy, cold pizza, and 2L bottles of Mountain Dew—cackling through a mouthful of popcorn at the latest Jim Carrey movie. Nothing will make you feel younger, warmer, or softer.
The natural, comfortable harmony of Laurel Wain and Ian Compton’s voices is the friendly weaving of swallows and salmon in spring time. It’s familiar, delightful, and invites you to sit cross-legged before them like kids around a campfire—with Wain and Compton as your goofball, Nickelodeon-special camp counselors.
First track—“Dopeheadz” is an anecdotal swinging bop that looks back at the past and grimaces, with twang and hope for better days. It takes on heavy context with grace and passion—not to mention some smooth sax sounds from Soda Club and Soup of the Weak’s Jarrett Krause. It’s a strong start to the EP as we dive into their most popular live show hit: “Moron Mountain.”
Do you lament during the end credits of Space Jam, wishing there were more? Wishing for a whole miniseries and multiple sequels? You’re not alone. Miss the Slim Jim man? The Kit Kat song? Lem knows just how you ache and they’re here to help. “Moron Mountain” is the toe-tapping sing-along song of your dreams. And if you have the pleasure of seeing them perform this live, this song will nest even deeper in your heart once you find yourself singing, “Put Michael Jordan and Bill Murray in a film together again,” while Compton prances through the crowd, guitar in hand, as everyone laughs and cheers. We’ve got two more years until Space Jam 2 is released and this song is the only thing that will keep us satiated until then.
“You’re Not A Bad Person” is a soft pat on the back and a reassuring smile for all the gentle hearts out there. It’s your big brother unable to keep from laughing when you tell him why you’re upset. He’s there for you, but he’s also shaking his head with a grin, telling you to chill out.
Next up, “Morning Routine” is an ode to a generation, a song for the people, and all the sleepy stoners. It’s a little love song for any of us in our unsure twenties, just taking things day by day. This track stands out from others on the EP with a surging break towards the end, and if you weren’t dancing already, this will definitely get you groovin’ for at least those last 30 seconds.
“Cassandra” is by far my favorite track, if not one of my favorite songs of all time. One of the greatest tragedies of our time is that this song is only one minute and twelve seconds, when it should really be an hour long. Listen to “Cassandra” on repeat on your front porch at three in the morning, watching the cars go by in the rain, hearing the crush of tires through the gathering puddles; and remind your oldest friends that you love them and always, always will.
The EP closes out with “Shit Outta Luck”—another zinger for those of us struggling to feel like a person. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you hope and sometimes you just want to give up. Compton croons, “Try and try again they say but I just wanna hang my head,” and nothing has ever been more relatable. But the swaying tempo keeps you moving and makes you feel a little less alone. Remember, you’re in good company.
And so here you are, soaring down Route 8, watching the stars zip by out the backseat window, destined for some mischievous night of setting off bottle rockets at Schenley Park or eating dippy eggs at 2AM at Ritter’s. Your heart is racing, it’s ecstasy out here in the midnight magic of Pittsburgh summers, and every fiber of your being is humming these songs. Just listen for it, and I know you’ll understand.