The Smith Westerns ‘Dye It Blonde’ – Review

27 Jan

The Smith Westerns self titled debut showed a lot of potential but it was simply too distorted and sonically poor to be taken seriously. They clearly possessed a knack for melody but, whether through choice or a lack of other options, the songs were recorded very poorly. I mention this so early in the review because it is the big difference between ‘Dye it Blonde’ and the debut – simply, this new one is a fantastically produced record.

It’s still quite raw, certainly a bit rough around the edges, but this time those choices enhance the sound rather than detract from it. The vocals, which are average at best, swim just below the other instruments which is a wise choice as it give the songs a shoegaze quality that reminds me of the early britpop groups. In fact Britpop is the keyword when it comes to The Smith Westerns influences this time around. Check out the British Invasion jangle on ‘Only One’, the T Rex crunch in the guitars on ‘Imagine Pt.3’ and the stadium size ambition of ‘Weekend’.

Lyrically it contains all the melodrama of being young and in love – ‘her tears are never ending’, ‘It’s the end of the night, are you going home,’ ‘spend my time thinking if you’re falling in love with me,’ ‘every night I wanna do it’ – you get the idea. You will already know whether this is your cup of tea or not, personally I think they pull it off because they are the real deal, they are only teenagers and this is reality. Plus if you really wanted to you could tune out of what they are actually saying, the singer has a pretty nondescript voice and he emphases only the big lyrical hooks.

The Smith Westerns are part of what they refer to as ‘The Holy Trinity’, alongside Girls and Magic Kids (two bands that I absolutely love). If their first album didn’t come anywhere close to matching the brilliance of those other bands debuts then ‘Dye It Blonde’ certainly does. secondly, If a Britpop revival is going to happen anytime soon then the music press would do well to choose The Smith Westerns as the revival leaders because they possess more wit, charm and hooks than any other group I’ve heard who have been thrown into that scene (*cough* Brother *cough*) – despite being American. And amazingly the band are still teenagers, if you give them a couple of years and if  they hook up with a bigger label then I see no reason why they won’t be massive. This is an ambitious, well produced and fantastically enjoyable album.



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