Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Matt Oliver
The characters in the songs of the Smith Westerns, it seems, are badgered and bedeviled by a lack of presence. They are doomed to live in alternate universes from the objects of their affection and, for most, this would be a cause for great concern. What in the hell are they going to do to get these two universes to smash themselves together, to align with themselves so that there can be some kind of unification of energies and realities. For the moment, the men in these songs are conjurers. They are strange and hazy alchemists, trying to construct for themselves what - as close as they can figure - it is that they want out of life and love. They're willing to build all of this with very flimsy materials, things that couldn't possibly survive even the mildest of windstorms or the lightest of rains. They are imaginary constructs that are no more real than any illusions could ever be. They exist somewhere up in the clouds and they're fine there, for now. There will come a time when that could eventually change, but there's nothing suggesting that the daydreams that Chicagoans Max Kakacek and brothers Cullen and Cameron Omori will tire of the idyllic scenes and girls that they're putting their hearts into. Forgive us, real girlfriends of the band, if you really do exist.
It's not that we don't think that they could find girls just as they're being described on "Dye It Blonde" and the band's self-titled debut, but you sound pretty great - almost too damned great - and the ways that you move, the ways that you are, how you're depicted makes you sound hard to believe. The swooning guitars and the lazy, dream world of their compositions make us more apt to believe that you're what's being ordered. You are the girls that these young fellows want to say, "I love you," to and mean it, maybe for the first time. You're the ones that they're holding out for. Cullen sings, "Keep runnin' through my dreams/Just be my girl," on "Be My Girl," and it's here where we get the feeling that there's no rush in making any of it clearer or more tangible. The dreams will suffice for now. The way that the music works makes us think that this could be a time capsule, dug up decades after it was first planted. It was buried in the first place, with the order to fill the tube with the sounds of your current time and your aspirations for the future. It's sort of like being asked, "Where do you expect to be 20 years from now and what do you hope you're still listening to?" These songs have the wonderful feel of remnants from a beloved past and the sentiment of not being totally sure how the chips were going to fall, but some preferences had been made.