Smell Bent Commando : Fragrance Review

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Andy discovers another cheap and chic perfume.

Smell Bent is a small, independent perfume company with an interest in keeping fragrance enjoyable, affordable, and, above all, fun. The cheeky names and concepts behind their fragrances, including Monaco-Dependent and Violet Tendencies might sound wacky, but in a market where we’re up to our noses in increasingly expensive niche perfumes, I find a playful and inexpensive line refreshing. After recently testing some perfumes from the brand, one stood out to me above the rest, a fragrance called Commando.

commando

At first I thought Commando would be bold and dynamic, as it sounded like a perfume one sprays on for combat. This was before I realized that the creator had another idea in mind—let it suffice to say that Commando is described “as close as it gets to wearing nothing at all.” Likewise, Commando is best described as a skin scent, though wearing it hardly feels like wearing nothing. Commando is both simple and strangely intriguing despite only two distinguishable notes, of musk and tonka. On the whole, this fragrance has little in the way of development, but the overall light and luminous effect is more than the sum of its parts.

From first spray to drydown, Commando makes it clear that its musk is dirty and animalic, no questions asked. I can’t help but draw some immediate comparisons to another, sometimes unfairly maligned dirty musk, Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan, though Commando lacks the baroque richness of the former. On the contrary, the overall effect of Commando is mild, but the musks smell so lived-in that I might go as far to say that it is difficult to feel alone while wearing this perfume. As I’m greeted by whiffs throughout the day, I truly feel as if I’m wearing the scent of someone else’s skin, rather than a bottled fragrance.

What also helps create this sensual effect is the fact that Commando lingers all day at a perceptible low hum. The fragrance seems as if it melds into my skin, floating up to greet me in wafts that produce that “what’s that smell?” reaction throughout the day. Commando never seems heavy or distracting though. While the animalic musk might be expected to come across as dense and foreign, the dry sweetness of tonka (coumarin) nuances lend Commando a palpable sense of radiance.

The formulation of Commando I tested was the Eau de Toilette, though it also comes in a more concentrated perfume oil form. While I’m interested in trying this fragrance in the other format, I think the Eau de Toilette achieves an intriguing balance of tenacity and lightness, which I wonder if I would find in the oil. Ultimately, I think Commando is neutral enough to fit into most any fragrance wardrobe or work for any season or occasion, though my tolerance for animalic notes is perhaps higher than others’. Nonetheless, given what I’ve tried, I recommend Commando, and endorse the Smell Bent line as an approachable way to test some unique perfumes while staying within budget.

Smell Bent Commando is available directly at smellbent.com. 50ml Eau de Toilette/$45, 8ml perfume oil/$20.

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24 Comments

  • rosarita: I admire the Smell Bent aesthetic but haven’t gotten around to sampling anything yet – Prairie Nymph looks especially nice to me, and Commando sounds really good, I’m a fan of animalic musk. Thanks for the review! May 6, 2014 at 8:33am Reply

    • Andy: I haven’t tried Prarie Nymph yet either. The customizable sample sets are a nice way to test out the Smell Bent perfumes, for under $30. The samples are very generous too! May 6, 2014 at 9:03am Reply

  • Lauren: Haha! I really got a kick out of this post and loved that you said it is “difficult to feel alone” based on the fragrance notes. Now I really want to smell it! Thanks for introducing me to a new line. May 6, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

    • Andy: Thanks, Lauren, glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve also thought of Commando as the perfume equivalent to white noise, something ultimately neutral, but there when you’re paying attention! May 6, 2014 at 9:09am Reply

  • George: Which other ones did you try, Andy? Commando doesn’t seem like it is quite my thing, but there are some others in the line that have piqued my interest. I love the marketing for these. May 6, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

    • Andy: I adore the playful marketing too. I also tried Monaco-Dependent (pretty, slightly animalic orange blossom), Incensed (think the resins of Avignon covered in a dark, treacly vanilla bean glaze), Green (a beautiful, but fleeting leafy green accord), and Mirror Ball (dry, cedar-y sandalwood with a hint of spicy florals). May 6, 2014 at 9:23am Reply

      • George: Thanks Andy! You seem to have steered away from the part of the range with the more uproarious feminine names. Something tells me there might be some more fun to be had over there. May 6, 2014 at 12:01pm Reply

        • Andy: You’re right, George. Next time I try Smell Bent samples, getting some that I wasn’t immediately attracted to is a really good idea. May 6, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Squirrely: I really like the Smell Bent line. Prairie Nymph is one of my summer staples.

    Unfortunately, I’m anosmic to the musk used in the line, so I don’t smell any of those scents properly (Mirror Ball, Tipsy Social Blah Blah, Monaco-Dependent, Lady GoGo, etc.), and I imagine Commando would fit into that pattern. My husband wears Werewolf Lumberjack and Totem Eclipse (can’t really smell the former for the aforementioned reason), and finds both to be great fun. May 6, 2014 at 12:05pm Reply

    • Andy: Prairie Nymph will have to go on my ‘to sample’ list, I love a good summery scent. I’m no expert on musks, but the prominent ones in Commando seem very different than those used in some of the other Smell Bent perfumes, so it might be worth a try. That being said, I can only imagine the frustration of realizing you can’t fully enjoy a given fragrance. May 6, 2014 at 12:33pm Reply

  • ralu: Only recently did I find out about this line and find it intriguing. Would love to read more reviews. I wish their perfumes sold in stores but an online sample order may happen in the near future. May 6, 2014 at 1:18pm Reply

    • Andy: Smell Bent was a fairly recent discovery for me as well. In the end, I’m happy to have found the line! May 6, 2014 at 2:11pm Reply

  • solanace: Thank you for the review, Andy! I like the aesthetics of Smell Bent, and Brent Leonesio seems to be such a cool guy, but I have never tried anyting from them. Will have to check if they will send samples here, and try to fix that. May 6, 2014 at 1:47pm Reply

    • Andy: I’m repeatedly misplacing my comments, apologies! May 6, 2014 at 10:33pm Reply

  • Andy: Yes, Brent (he seems so easygoing that somehow I feel comfortable calling him by just his first name) seems like he must have a lot of fun creating and maintaining his fragrance line. I’m not sure if Smell Bent ships internationally, but good luck! May 6, 2014 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Lynley: I received a sample of Commando some time ago, and unfortunately, despite repeat testing, it is the only fragrance that I’ve ever had a ‘soiled underwear’ association with. I don’t get it with MKK or other animalic musks, just this. Commando indeed ;-) But the rest of the line does seem interesting :) May 6, 2014 at 10:24pm Reply

    • Andy: Interesting! I feel no unpleasantness when I wear Commando, but it definitely isn’t normal or necessarily easy to get along with either, so I can understand where you’re coming from. May 6, 2014 at 10:31pm Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: Is anyone offering any decants/samples in the EU? May 7, 2014 at 2:41am Reply

  • The Blue Squid: Ha, the line drawing made me smile, as it looks a bit like an ex of mine. I’ve not tried this one, but I do have a bottle of Totem Eclipse. It’s a pungent woody green,that makes me think of freshly shredded cabbage stuffed inside a new wooden box. It’s good. Thanks for the fun review, Andy! May 7, 2014 at 4:18am Reply

    • Andy: Ooh, Totem Eclipse sounds quirky too! I’ll have to give it a whirl some time. May 7, 2014 at 8:40am Reply

  • Mals86: I really enjoy the cheeky sensibility of Smell Bent (and their prices are quite the bargain too). However, with the dozen or so that I’ve tested, I’ve come to the conclusion that at least several of the musks used at SB come across as intensely… um… lived in, to me.

    I first ran across mention of Commando at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, a review by Tom, in which he said it was like the smell of freshly-washed baby skin. I like “skin” musks in general, as opposed to animalic ones or laundry ones, so I was happy to try it. However, Commando smelled to me like the locker rooms at my middle school (which had been built as the high school 50 years prior): sweaty, pungent, overwhelmingly stinky (male) skin. No clean babies at all. Mind you, I tend to like the smell of fresh guy sweat, on a guy, but Commando was an entire football team’s worth. EEP.

    I do really love One, which is sort of a chai-tea-in-used-book-store thing. May 7, 2014 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Andy: Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Commando! Your comment made me laugh. It’s interesting, because from what I’ve read, opinions seem to be very split on Commando—either unbearably dirty and funky, or pleasantly intimate (I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say it’s like fresh baby skin though!). As for One, I’m glad to read your endorsement. I saw that it listed a “paperback” note, but was kind of wondering if it actually conveyed it or not. May 7, 2014 at 12:56pm Reply

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