Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

Since it’s my first day here in the Windy City, I thought I’d christen this here blog not only with original content, but a review of local boys Smith Westerns sophomore album.

With their debut passing me by completely when it was released, 2011 really has been the year for Smith Westerns in my eyes, and before I start this review I will declare that I utterly adore Dye It Blonde. With it, they’ve done what The Drums achieved in 2010, a bloody brilliant summer album.

It oozes with sunshine, aided enormously by generous pepperings of 80s style jingle jangle indie, it’s like the soundtrack to that perfect summer dream. If that dream was soundtracked by slightly lackadaisical (in the best way possible) guitars and almost wonderful tinitus inducing shrillness. I know that sounds awful, but it’s not, I promise.

Opener Weekend, is pretty much a dream. Lead singer Cullen Omari’s voice floats atop the lazy guitars and almost funfair-esque sounds, which peak and fall throughout the song captivating attention from every direction. The track manages to not only retain a youthful innocent edge, but encapsulate all of the expected and unexpected sounds and feelings of that dream summer weekend. And the lyric ‘Weekends are never fun unless you’re around here too’ is one of the most simple and effective chorus’ I’ve heard in a while.

The album then neatly flows into Still New, the slow pace utilized to drag out the syllables of the word glamourous at regular intervals. The track is also filled with sporadic bursts of T-Rex-esque guitars, meshed with lead singer Cullen Omari crooning ‘I want to tell you you’re hard to resist’ almost dream like.

Imagine Pt. 3 is easily one of the stand out tracks here, alongside the equally brilliant Dance The Night Away. The former is a distortion soaked, sunshine infused anthem, one of the best examples of how to include a tambourine effectively, and the latter is an almost disco stormer that, as much as it pains to admit it, has had me channeling Saturday Night Fever dancing around the kitchen.

The only problem with this album is that is all sounds so very similar. Smith Westerns do write some fantastic songs (Fallen In Love is another stand out track that sweetly rages along) but its difficult to clebrate an album where you hear the same 3 songs time and time again. While none the tracks are filler, you do feel a tad shortchanged. Though admittedly its hard to feel upset in the slightest listening to Dye It Blonde, its upbeat tempo and uplifting harmonies are so penetrating before you know it you’ll be pulling shapes left, right and centre.

And admittedly the collection of tracks on the album are pretty spot on. I can’t pick a bad one from the bunch, but whether that’s the incredible sunshine I’m currently sat in or the talent of the band, Dye It Blonde is a true testement to the boys, and it has the power to take them over to the mainstream.

Now I’m off to listen to the album yet again (I’ll be shocked if I ever get bored of this album) and have wander around my lovely new home town of Skokie, but being a Brit abroad I’ll most likely end up in Starbucks!


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