L7 – Smell the Magic: #337 of best 1,000 albums ever!

So why is L7’s Smell the Magic on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

I haven’t thought this out completely*, but I’m pretty sure that L7 is my third favorite “grunge band,” behind only Nirvana** and Alice in Chains.

* I’ve been a little bit busy compiling this here best 1,000 albums project thing!
** There’s a reason that we’re nearly two-thirds of the way through rolling out the 1,000 albums now and a Nirvana record has not shown up yet… oh, it’s coming!

Smell the Magic is a wonderfully dirty-sounding and metal-y grunge album, yet crucially it’s also extremely tight, well-constructed, and well produced, coming in at a tidy nine songs and just over a half hour of playing time.

The entire album is strong, but for me there are two monster L7 songs that happen to bookend the album: “Shove” and “American Society.”

“Shove” embodies everything you want from L7: a crushing guitar hook, a catchy singalong chorus – get out of my way or I might shove! – and a tough as nails, kick ass riot grrl sound and performance.

“American Society” might be the most anthemic and pointed song that L7 ever produced. I wouldn’t call it political, exactly, but it’s more in line with the anti-conformity theme that we also get from great songs like “Pretend We’re Dead,” off of Bricks Are Heavy (#654 of best 1,000 albums ever).

And Henry Rollins and the Black Flag crew would surely get with these lyrics:

I don’t want to watch television
I don’t want to listen to the radio
I don’t want to drown in American society

Musically, “American Society” rocks and soars, the tempo slowed down a touch so that every guitar chord hits and crunches with sweet bliss. It’s a song where the “heaviness” of metal and punk and grunge is meshed with a pop sensibility in such a way that I find endlessly pleasing.

“Fast and Frightening” is, as advertised, fast and if not frightening, certainly exhilarating. It also includes one of my favorite verses in all of rock music, and please pardon the R rated language here:

Down at the creek smoking pot
She eats the roach so she don’t get caught
Throws her mini off in the halls
Got so much clit she don’t need no balls

She’s fast, she’s lean, and she’s frightening all right.

Some stats & info about L7 – Smell the Magic

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? SoCal Bands, Rock Music, Grunge, Alternative Rock, Alternative Metal
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Smell the Magic released? 1990
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #337 out of 1,000

L7’s Smell the Magic on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from L7’s Smell the Magic that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Get out of my way or I might shove.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.