Under Review: Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
Say what you will about the legacy of ‘70s pop/rock, but it stands to reason that more people than just your dad were listening. Scandalously underage Chicago combo Smith Westerns might at first seem like another in a long line of pop-sensible youngsters. That’s until you hear Dye It Blonde, when you’ll realize that they’re more than just savvy, they’re downright masterful. Yes, some of the sugary lo-fi of their contemporaries (and former HoZac labelmates) lingers, but the attention to detail in crafting the album is what makes it an early favorite.
From the opening bubbles of the delicious “Weekend” to the closing “Dye The World,” Dye It Blonde is a triumph. One of the most recognizable characteristics of the era they’re emulating, the heavily-processed lead guitar, is put to strenuous (and exceptional) use on Dye It Blonde. Whether it’s searing through upbeat tracks like “End Of The Night” or gliding across sweeping jams like “Smile,” that sound instantly conjures the spirits of 10cc and T. Rex. But Smith Westerns aren’t mere revivalists: they cast themselves as torchbearers of an era that never really ended. Otherwise, their songs would be more parodic than eerily spot-on. If there’s a message to be found in the few seconds of backmasking at the end of “Still New,” it’s that the Smith Westerns’ music sounds great no matter which way it’s played.