Quick Review (LP): Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns

Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde
Fat Possum; 2011

My Rating: C

Best Tracks: “Weekend”

There’s been a ton of hype surrounding this record, and I truly expected I’d like it. After several listens, I can safely say this is a mediocre record at best. The band’s influences are obvious, and the music sounds almost exactly how you’d expect it to sound. Still, none of that’s really that problematic. I can handle derivative rock records. The problem with Smith Westerns is an utter lack of vocal talent. It’s a problem I see a lot these days. I recall seeing Wild Nothing last year and thinking the same thing. Give me a Freddie Mercury or a Liam Gallagher or, in Wild Nothing‘s case, a Robert Smith, and then you’ve got something. Without that, you need something far more interesting instrumentally, and the Smith Westerns just don’t deliver on that level. It’s obvious these guys want to make huge rock songs, but there’s far more gloss here than over-the-top glam. The keyboards sheen and the falsettos swell, but I can’t shake the feeing that this just isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Pitchfork review
Metacritic review
AMG review
Sputnik Music review

5 Things: “Wonderwall” by Oasis

5 Things I Love About “Wonderwall” by Oasis…

1. Liam’s non-dynamic vocal – he sounds like a bratty three year old in a grown man’s body, but it wouldn’t sound right otherwise. Even complete knuckleheads are born to do something great.
2. The cello…in my mind, it makes this the definitive recording of the song, even above the Ryan Adams version, but it manages to lurk in the background rather than stealing center stage from Noel’s genius acoustic patterns.
3. Somewhere in Europe, there is a college dropout with an acoustic guitar covering this song in a touristy, open air setting.
4. The utterly ubiquitous and gloriously ambiguous refrain: “And all the roads we have to walk are winding/And all the lights that lead us there are blinding.” It’s always true, but somehow, it manages to defy cliche…
5. It’s a masterpiece of impressionist pop songwriting. Fifteen years on, and it’s still anybody’s guess what a “wonderwall” is, yet we all sing it like we know.