When speculation surrounding the Smith Westerns’ sophomore album first began, there was a lot of talk of how it would vary from their superb self-titled debut a few years back. The term “Brit-pop” as an influencer was being tossed around left and right, but then we got our first taste. With “Weekend,” the Smith Westerns put everyone’s premonitions on the backburner–for the most part at least–presenting a new and improved band. Almost like 2.0 Smith Westerns.
The most obvious characteristics about the triumphant Dye it Blonde is the drastically improved production content. At first, for the returning SW fan, this may seem a little jarring. I, myself loved the scrappy, lo-fi value to their first album and I would be lying if I didn’t say that it took me a few listens to really dig into Dye it Blonde.
Other than production value, subject matter has shifted largely from album to album. Less bratty, more romantic, Dye it Blonde gauges on just how quickly these twenty-something’s have matured. On “Still New”, Cullen Omori gently coos “I want to tell you you’re hard to resist” that leads to a vocal-less chorus where a George Harrison approved monster riff sways its way through.
There’s a diversity of sound throughout Dye it Blonde as well, which demonstrates just how talented these four young men really are. “End of the Night” features further signature guitar riffing, with a Foreigner like piano breakdown/bridge that launches into the land of epic choruses, while “Only One” features some pretty, Byrds-esque, arpeggiated note work.
At the end of the day, the best way to describe Dye it Blonde is 'self-assured'. It’s filled with grandiosity and stylistically rich textures that guys this young shouldn’t be making. I was joking with a friend the other day about how I felt the Smith Westerns should be playing these new songs at a venue like Terminal 5 as opposed to the smaller places in Brooklyn. In a few years, I have a feeling my expectations are going to be far surpassed.