Fush Yu Mang – Smash Mouth

Fush Yu Mang

Smash Mouth

1997

Interscope

It’s hard for me to think about an album like this with anything but nostalgia. Anybody who listened to a pop radio station for longer than ten minutes in the summer of 1997 knows “Walkin’ on the Sun.” Then, two years later, “All Star” repeated that success off of their second album. However, most of the rest of Smash Mouth’s career, especially Fush Yu Mang, tends to get lost to history.

The album is rather curious in some ways. I like to think of Steve Harwell’s vocals as a sponge. On Fush Yu Mang, he has a more grizzled sound, like the scouring side of the sponge. On Astro Lounge, he’s more smooth, like the… sponge side of the sponge? Yeah, let’s go with that. The subject matter of this album is also much different than Astro Lounge. Booze, sex, drugs, eviction, and even Al Pacino are covered here.

I’m sure you’re wondering how Pacino fits in here, so I’ll cover that first. The title of the album comes from a line he slurs in Scarface, an attempt to say “Fuck you, man.” Also, in “Padrino,” Harwell says he’ll take any flick with Al Pacino. Another interesting bit about that reference is that the song is about the mafia, a common occurrence in Pacino’s films.

Really, deviance in general is the common theme on the album as a whole. The ideas of abnormality and immorality appear scattered throughout Fush Yu Mang, forming connections with the listeners on different tracks. For example, “Beer Goggles” talks about, not surprisingly, wanting to have sex with anyone while drunk. “Nervous in the Alley”describes the tale of a girl on the streets, turning tricks to support her drug habit.  Upping this concept is middle of the album song “The Fonz,” which almost comically speaks about suicide.

See kids? Deviance leads to being on lame VH1 reality shows.

Fush Yu Mang gets mostly forgotten, living in the shadow of the success of its hit single. Perhaps the length of the album is a metaphor. It’s only 37 minutes long, and it will likely be remembered for just that long after you’re done listening. However, I actually remember this album fondly. It’s just some fast, fun rock, and it brings a smile to my face to hear it. Would I like it if I hadn’t listened to it a lot in my younger years? Perhaps not, but as with any form of art, we tend to attach our memories to it. We get additional connotation that others might not. I know that this is starting to sound like a soapbox sermon, so I’ll leave it with this: Fush Yu Mang isn’t a classic, it didn’t define a generation, and it won’t go down in history as quintessentially anything. Despite that, it will always hold a special place in my heart, reminding me of my childhood.

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