‘Soft Will’ (Co-Op/Mom + Pop)
Just one chorus is enough. ‘Varsity’, the heart-crushing closer on Smith Westerns’ third album, is amorous, relatable and danceable enough to warrant the word ‘perfect’.
It waltzes in after nine progressive tracks charting love, hardship, frustration and growth. ‘Soft Will’ represents a huge step towards the shiny, glamorous indie-pop sound this Chicago band have always hankered after.
‘3AM Spiritual’ builds patiently, waiting three whole minutes before dropping Queen-tinged piano and Max Kakacek’s first solo. ‘Idol’ demonstrates similar restraint, Cullen Omori’s vocals swimming in stately clarity before ‘Glossed’ builds on the insouciance of 2011’s ‘Dye It Blonde’, tossing tremendous guitar lines aside like cigarette butts.
There lies Smith Westerns’ main asset – prodigal talent for crafting insatiable pop music, amidst cool disinterest. It’s a compelling story; through industry difficulties and growing pains, comes a lovesick, loveable and brilliant album.
And, after epic instrumental ‘XXIII’, ‘Fool Proof’’s twinkle and ‘White Oath’’s glitzy soloing, the final three songs hammer home Smith Westerns’ awesome musical and emotional dexterity. ‘Best Friend’ is like reading your first love letter, ‘Cheer Up’ crushes a teenage romance into three minutes and then there’s ‘Varsity’.
One chorus may be enough, but ‘Soft Will’ is studded with so much more.