Although it may be easy to consider Callahan's lyrics dour and unyielding, upon closer examination the words tend to make positive conclusions or understandings of particular events in retrospect. "Most people don't listen that closely," Callahan laments. "They think [my lyrics] fit into a premade groove that was made long before I was born and was just sitting there waiting for me." But it's Smog's deadpan, cynical humor that seems most often misinterpreted as a bleak world view. A close listen to the self-effacing mockery of songs such as "Prince Alone in the Studio" and the flippant juxtapositions of upbeat music beneath the unsavory lyrics of "Cold Blooded Old Times" reveals a dark sense of humor beneath Smog's pathos. The singer wryly chuckles, "I think it's funny to have a pop song about something heavy."
Callahan is selecting backing musicians to accompany him on a March tour of the eastern United States and later treks to the West Coast and Europe. While he'd once toured alone, playing only guitar or keyboard, the singer and recent transplant from Sacramento to Chicago finds his newest music best represented by a group. Numerous singles, EPs, and albums into its existence, Smog's seemingly perpetual musical gloom continues to fester, regardless of its progress changing from a malformed, distorted musical Everyman into a refined studio entity. And Callahan continues to illustrate the everyday significance of his lyrics as found fragments from anyone else's life, despite Smog's apparent personal vulnerability and unflinching honesty.
As Smog exits the decade with Knock, Knock perhaps aimed at leaving the pathetic aesthetic behind, Callahan remains rooted in his sense of universal experience and empathy. Describing Smog's ongoing endeavors, the singer tellingly considers himself one among a common multitude, stating, "I feel like a bee in a beehive, just doing what I'm supposed to do without much question.