Love is a tricky business. What you might perceive as entering as a warm cocoon with your new honey might look like building prison walls around yourself to your friends. The disjointed space between personal happiness and global sorrow is where Smrtdeath’s new album it’s fine makes its home.
Written and recorded during the pandemic, one of the most dramatically isolating experiences of our lives, the album finds Smrtdeath’s Mike Skwark in a surprisingly contented state, newly coupled up and living in bliss. But the thing about your happiness is that it displaces your unhappiness. When you’re single and unhappy, you spend time with your friends, and maybe your unhappiness and availability is something your crew has come to rely on. How do you deal with that new complication? Skwark’s trying his best. “All my friends are pissed off/I switched up/They bitchin/Cuz all I wanna do is see you,” he sings on “All My Friends Are Pissed Off.”
“I’m happier than I've been in the past,” Skwark says. “Instead of getting fucked up all the time, we cook food and watch movies a lot. Everything is just very, very natural.” He says the album is full of love songs. So how does that jibe with the adrenaline fueled, raw sound of Smrtdeath? Perfectly well. The album takes his classic blend of pop, rap, emo, trap, punk, and more and adds big, organic drum sounds and huge harmonies. Skwark is no longer the frontman of his own productions, he is playing all the instruments in his own one-man band.
it’s fine was produced by Matt Malpass, who Skwark calls “fucking incredible” (the final track, “It’s fine” was made with longtime Smrtdeath collaborator Taxpurposes.) Malpass is a Grammy-nominated producer who has worked extensively with Blink 182, along with other artists surfing across similar genre borderlines as Smrtdeath, like Trippie Redd, Machine Gun Kelly, and 311. His bombastic approach to sound blends perfectly with Smrtdeath’s near-spiritual use of harmony. The chorus of “All My Friends” is likely the closest pop-punk has come to gospel.