Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde


2.0
poor

Review

by Daniel Smith USER (21 Reviews)
January 14th, 2011 | 32 replies | 9,460 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Now in one flavor, and in one flavor only.

9 of 10 thought this review was well written

God bless the soul who’s never watched Forrest Gump; one can take only so many TBS reruns before the box of chocolate’s content becomes predictable. Titanic is another victim of the fatal Gump Syndrome. You’ve seen it, your mother’s seen it, your grandmother’s seen it. Heck, the family dog’s probably seen it. Twice. Particular words in our own English language suffer from similar symptoms of overwrought popularity. According to Lake Superior State University of Michigan’s “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness,” epic is dead. Good riddance, I say. Enough epic fails, enough epic wins, enough of that criminal colloquialism. But what concerns me is Gump Syndrome’s viral power: Hollywood will forever run medieval war cinema through Lord of the Rings emulators, and starry-eyed young rock bands will continuously kill creativity, conduct stadium electricity, and call it inspiration. Dye It Blonde, the sophomore effort from Chicago’s Smith Westerns, is proof in the pudding that epic, that is, the art of being epic, is here to stay.

From the get-go, it’s obvious that the American quartet’s been reading up on their britpop. Lead single and first track “Weekend,” a melodic guitar-driven piece of Summer festival charm, features plenty of “na-na-na’s” and faux-British vocal embellishment, not to mention its carefree lyrics. “Is it normal to go through life oh so formal?” frontman Cullen Omori asks an anonymous female “you,” before declaring that “weekends never are fun unless you’re around here too.” In theory, “Weekend”’s upbeat tune and lighthearted invitation to sing along sounds like a winning formula, but the Smith Westerns equation fails to check out on both sides. “Weekend” and the nine songs that follow it are totally synthetic. This isn’t the second coming of britpop, not even close; this is the sound of a britpop cover band going through the motions of covering despite being disconnected from the songs themselves. Except the disconnect here is with original material, which only exemplifies the record’s staleness. The real killer, though, isn’t a deficiency of foundation but the horrible truth that Dye It Blonde is thirty-five minutes of slogging sameness, not just in songwriting but in atmosphere as well.

My hypothesis is that Smith Westerns listened to Definitely Maybe for encouragement and then, having already written their ten songs, swaggered into the studio and recorded them all in one sitting. Because that’s what it sounds like: same tone, same mood, same lyrical fixation, same instruments, same wannabe cathartic buildup to the chorus, same face-forward flop when the chorus’ epic whoa-oh feel actually sweeps across your ears. They’re the worst parts, the choruses. A good britpop chorus combusts with passionate intent, but a Smith Westerns chorus sets itself on fire, unable to distinguish the difference. By the time the frustratingly homogenous closer “Dye the World” expires, any chance of a phoenix metaphor has disintegrated alongside the album itself. Clearly, Smith Westerns shoot for the moon with Dye It Blonde. One day, if they continue in the direction they’re going, I think they’ll make it there only to realize they’re decades late. They’ll look at each other in bewilderment and wonder where their audience is, and then it will dawn on them: their audience is safely grounded on Earth. Everybody watched the first lunar landing, sure, but after that it was all old news. And Smith Westerns will then drift away, lost eternally in the nothingness of faulty ambition.

Shame on you, Smith Westerns. Dye It Blonde is catchy, fun, and enjoyable, and it’ll earn you spots in countless numbers of prestigious music festivals. Major publications and music journals will praise you for it, perhaps even include you in their best-of lists at the end of the year. But it’s a lifelessly derivative illusion, an alteration of your natural hair color, and you know it. My advice to interested listeners is this: spin it twice, choose the two or three songs you like the most – I mean, they’re virtually all the same, anyway – and then delete the rest. At least when you watch Titanic for the umpteenth time, there’s still that sex scene.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Drsmith4
January 14th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Streaming on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/11/132715250/first-listen-smith-westerns-dye-it-blonde#playlist

kanecooper
January 14th 2011



630 Comments


i didn't like their first album all that much, a couple of catchy tunes but not much else

probably won't bother with this

Drsmith4
January 14th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Fucking Smith Westerns giving Smiths a bad name. At least there's always The Queen Is Dead...

Kiran
Emeritus
January 15th 2011



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

terrific review, real fun read and i mostly agree

lame record

Tyrael
January 15th 2011



20823 Comments


Very well written and very enjoyable review, have a pos.

londoncalling457
January 15th 2011



2603 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album isn't that good overall but weekend is such a catchy song

timbo8
January 16th 2011



618 Comments


disappointing in seeing this panned, considering I like their first album, but I still need to give this a listen

Drsmith4
January 18th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Well, p4k BNM'd this piece of shit.

robin
Emeritus
January 19th 2011



4248 Comments


'weekend' rocks. i like this but as ten songs in a row it becomes rather dreary.

231090
January 19th 2011



20 Comments


Awesome review. Having second thoughts on spending time on this album now, though :P

Kiran
Emeritus
January 20th 2011



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

there's just nothing about this album that actually stands out, which is the big problem

it just happens

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2011



15014 Comments


i remember weekend being great

Steoandnoodles
January 21st 2011



2832 Comments


It wasn't all that bad. The music; at times was pretty cool but the vocals on this record overall simply 'sucked'. No life in the vocals at all.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 1st 2011



15014 Comments


weekend is amazing

robin
Emeritus
February 6th 2011



4248 Comments


this is so great

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2011



15014 Comments


weekend SoTY for me so far

JammithSpoonfuls
February 8th 2011



11 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Weekend, All Die Young are awesome.

Rest of the album is blaah. Definitely started strong'ish and fell flat at the end.

lancebramsay
March 3rd 2011



1585 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This album was a definite shrinker for me. Weekend really being the only track worth listening to.

Steoandnoodles
March 3rd 2011



2832 Comments


I revisited it and still didn't find the magic.

letsgofishing
March 17th 2011



901 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

God, does this band suck live.
....really wasn't a surprise.

Why is this band getting hyped so much?



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