Live Review
The Smith Westerns
Emo's, Austin
Texas, USA

If you’re like me, when you first heard the lighters-in-the-air anthem ‘All Die Young’ – the centrepiece of the Smith Westerns’ second album ‘Dye it Blonde’ – you probably wondered how the Chicagoan youngsters ever expected to pull off a song like that in a rock club. Well, when they rev up their keyboards and frontman Cullen Omori remarks an inelegant “this is a song to slow-fuck your girlfriend to,” they actually come close. No, it’s not ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Heroes’, it’s not even ‘The Passenger’ really, but there is a brief, unexpected moment of euphoria. Cameron Omori’s guitar swoons with impassioned ache, the organ tones have a full-bodied tremor – they were there; they were their idols. Of course the songs go on and the mix gets muddier and they rev back up into the jaunty glam-pop only a few minutes later, but it represented a flash of something deeper. The Smith Westerns are handsome, likable, and talented enough to bring back stadiums. They’re a ‘great American rock band’, if you will – the sort of group that makes the teenagers scream out lyrics they don’t really understand. They’re on their way, and the patchy progress of their live persona proves it.

By Luke Winkie

Originally published in issue 25 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. February 2011