The Smith Westerns | Dye It Blonde

Fat Possum (2011)
By RYAN REED  |  January 11, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars


If the Smith Westerns' homonymous 2009 debut perfectly captured the awkward, waning days before high-school graduation, then their sophomore effort is the Chicago indie quartet's college existential-crisis record, more sprawling and a tad wiser while still hitting its target of raw, British Invasion–style psychedelia. And the band haven't lost the youthful, naive sparkle of their debut. The songs are still simple, urgent, and hooky — they're just slightly less restless, with indie-rock producer extraordinaire Chris Coady polishing the rough spots. What's more, all the right stylistic moves are in place: diminished and seventh chords, piles of reverb, high-octave piano flourishes — even backwards fade-outs, a true sign of psychedelic maturity. After the rousing one-two opening punch of "Weekend" and "Still New," Dye It Blonde slows down a tad, too often eschewing bright, spot-on hooks in favor of washed-out '60s texture. But when they get it, they really get it as on "Dance Away," which morphs from brooding atmosphere to a tambourine-boosted, candy-coated chorus. None of the Smith Westerns is yet of legal drinking age, but someone should buy them a round anyway — they've earned it.

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Chicago, psychedelia
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