Two years ago, these guys released their self-titled debut LP. It was a scruffy, lo-fi affair with all the fuzzed guitars and scratchy vocals you could want. However, for all the under-produced naivety, it did make an impression. Tracks like ‘Gimme Some Time’ and ‘Diamond Boys’ epitimised the brash lackadaisical panache that these almost-20’s possessed. Nonetheless, it left me with the feeling that if they put some thought into better production, we could be listening to something even greater.
Now, two years on and as these guys move into their 20’s we get the sophomore record. It appears that my wish has been granted as the opener ‘Weekend’ is as snappy and fresh as I had ever desired. That meandering guitar line is a gallant nod to Marc Bolan if ever I heard one.
We have a more defined sound with less of the distortion and a greater focus on the slick sharper tones. Good news.
You would be right in saying that this is dangerously close to being another of those uniform dreamy-summer-surfer records that seem to crop up every fortnight or so. It is shoegaze-y in how Cullen Omori’s vocals blend in and out of the music elegantly, but it is equally poppy through the memorable hooks and chord structure. Beach House will know what I am talking about.
Influence is as evident this time around as it was on the debut; T-Rex, Bowie, and Lennon to but name a few can all be heard in the youthful exuberance; if it’s the sing-along chorus of ‘Smile’, the numerous effect-driven lead guitar work throughout or Omari’s distinctly Lennon-esque vocals.
Dye It Blonde pays dividends to how the right production can do wonders to a band’s sound. Credit to Chris Coady, as he has helped develop the fuzzy wonder that was Smith Westerns into a much clearer sounding beast.