- 17 May 11
Young Americans flaunt their influences on anglo-rock indebted set
They may hail from Chicago, but Smith Westerns are a band whose heart belongs to England. Beatles’ whimsy, the glam stomp of Sweet and bittersweet ache of Suede are all present and correct in the young three-piece’s second album.
This is a much crisper, more cleanly presented set of songs than gathered on their self-titled 2009 debut. That previous offering made great virtue of its scrappy, garage rock production and unvarnished hooks. Here, though, melody like emotion is never far from the glittering surface.
As with all young men – none of them are yet 21 years old – Smith Westerns carry longing in their breast and a picture of their beloved in their wallet. On the opening ‘Weekend’ they bemoan life without the one, guitars injecting Stonesy attitude. ‘Still New’ blurs the edges into Girls’ style psychedelia, before ‘Imagine Pt. 3’ – a nod to Lennon, no doubt – brings a bright pop sheen to their ever-unrequited yearnings, “In the corners of your heart/ I tried to make love grow”, laments Cullen Omori in his emotionally strung-out drawl. Elsewhere, ‘End of The Night’ cajoles Ziggy Stardust out of retirement, whilst ‘Dance Away’ suggests the high-gloss stylings of Black Kids.
In the ever-lengthening roll-call of pop rock, it can be difficult to distinguish one group from another. Dye It Blonde has just enough by way of songwriting nous to deserve your attention. Ultimately, however, I’m left feeling that Smith Westerns are the Ben Fogle of indie rock: perfectly pleasant they may be, but their definition of adventure is to re-trace their heroes’ steps, not make tracks of their own.