Smith Westerns entered the scene with their debut, self-titled, self-recorded, critically acclaimed record not even two years ago. After touring heavily and opening for bands as big as MGMT, they somehow managed to record a second album. Their first album showed they had raw talent and having signed to Fat Possum since then they refined their sound and capitalized on their talent. With that said, they did not lose any of their charm on their sophomore album, Dye It Blonde.
After hearing the single “Weekend”, a very un-Winter song in the middle of winter, my hopes for their second album began to grow. I try and keep my expectations for albums relatively low in order to soften the blow of disappointment, but it was hard to with Dye It Blonde after hearing the single. From “Weekend” it was clear they had moved away from the massive distortion of the first album, but still stuck to the roots that had attracted me to them. Weekend took me away to a world that wasn’t the blistering cold and wind of a Champaign winter and I wanted more. Luckily, this record does not disappoint.
The main difference between the two Smith Western albums is that they moved away from the extreme lo-fi and massive distortion nature of the first album (which should be expected from a self-recorded album) to a more rock-pop feel. Unlike certain sophomore albums, everything that was good about their debut album they managed to incorporate into their second album and refine into a stronger and more accessible sound. For those who may not have liked their debut album make sure to give this one a chance.
Song after song, the Smith Westerns engage the listener in a way that makes you not want to put the album on repeat. Different emotions can be felt in each song, from being at peace with everything on “Dye the World” and “All Die Young”, to the joy of the upbeat, fast paced “Weekend” and “Dance Away”. This is not to say these guys are peaceful either. Read any article about their onstage antics and that becomes clear, but there is a feeling in this album that everything can be okay, a definite feel good album. Starting with the engaging “Weekend”, with its summer jam feel, and ending with “Dye the World”, a perfect closing number, the album feels complete. You are not left asking for more or wondering what sort of craziness you just heard. At the end you feel completely satisfied with what you spent listening to in the last 35 minutes. Dye It Blonde lets you escape into the music to help you forget about everything and that is exactly what music should do. Allow you to escape into a whole new world.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P-G
Key Tracks: “All Die Young”, “Weekend”, and “Dye The World”.
Recommended if you like: The Fresh & Onlys, Girls & Harlem.
W = Poor
W-P = Fair
W-P-G = Great
W-P-G-U = An instant classic!