Thursday, 26 May 2011

Album review: SMITH WESTERNS - Dye It Blonde

Highlights: Still New, All Die Young, End Of The Night, Only One, Dye The World  

For me, Smith Westerns’ second album is a huge improvement over the messy, lo-fi charms of their debut  (The Smith Westerns, 2009). And while some complained about the more polished sound (this ‘more’, you have to understand, is relative), I’m glad I now have a clearer idea of what this band is about. 

When it comes to Smith Westerns (and, indeed, Dye It Blonde), people tend to mention artists like Marc Bolan and David Bowie. I’d be a fool to deny the obvious glam-rock influences here, but my reference points would rather include more contemporary suspects: think the more intense bits on The Sleepy Jackson’s first record (Lovers, 2003) or Black Kids with more guts and better tunes.   

Because really, the 10 songs on Dye It Blonde sound like 10 slices of juicy, seedless watermelon. Drenched in slide guitars (The Vaccines don’t stand a chance) and noisy (but always melodic – The Vaccines still don’t stand a chance), fuzzy wall of sound, these songs are both clever and mindlessly joyful. I won’t get into too much detail, but the guitar hook of “Still New”, the breathtaking “All Die Young” chanting, and the lilting melodic delight of “Only One” can all make me pretty much disregard the mellow, non-charismatic (if lovely) vocals of the singer.  

So, what are they about? Well, really, they are about catchy, ingenious pop songs, and that intense, uplifting vibe that makes you forget about everything else, and just enjoy the whole thing, hook by hook. And what a beautiful, tasteful album cover to boot. 


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