Ok this one really should have been a hit single. It was pre-released and getting good reactions from radio music journos in late August 1997 until a princess car crash led the record company to pull it to avoid possible accusations of poor taste. Poor Lawrence (no surname)! After releasing 10 critically acclaimed but not million selling albums and singles as Felt in the 1980s his new band Denim was supposed to bring on the success his talent so obviously deserved. Alas, it wasn’t to be. This single and the third Demin album it was supposed to launch never materialized. Lawrence would go with another vehicle Go Kart Mozart/Mozart Estate that would continue with his playful dystopian social commentary and peppy tunes, though with similar commercial results. A recent-ish documentary has revived interest in Lawrence’s career and catalogue, so perhaps it will help finally garner the mass audience he once dreamed would be his.
It’s fascinating to see the arc of Lawrence’s career through his many different musical projects: from an English indie-jangle Lou Reed (early Felt), to ground-breaking keyboard heavy indie pop (later Felt), to more focused (though still eccentric) efforts at commercial hit-making (in both later bands). “Summer Smash” is really the best example of Lawrence’s wonderfully weird reach for a chart topper. The keyboards are so computer poppy and boppy, the track bubbles with hooky charm and a radio friendly elan. Nothing ironic here. Just a fun blast of carefully crafted sure-fire hit tuneage. If this really had got its proper release back in 1997 it would have wallpapered radio everywhere.
If you’re just getting started with Lawrence I’d recommend Felt’s Forever Breathes the Lonely Word from 1986, it’s their electrifying transition-to-keyboards album. For Demin, there’s a great 4 song Summer Smash EP. And check out Lawrence’s most recent single from Mozart Estate “When You’re Depressed” to see how his hooks never fail him.
You can keep up with Lawrence’s occasional news on his Mozart Estate Facebook page.