It’s difficult to follow up a break-out record – especially one as successful as Dye it Blonde was for Smith Westerns. It had an air of spontaneity and honesty, that paired with their musical influences was suddenly a success. In part that was the result of a lack of expectations – producing a record for the sake of the music and not commercial acceptance.
With Soft Will it was certainly a factor to consider musicianship as a career, to produce something that would sell and establish the band as one with longevity and consistent talent. On that front the record is a success. It’s more polished than their previous albums and establishes a very clear 1970s rock sound, full of nostalgic anthemic summer songs. The builds are enticing, the choruses moving, and the lyrics are delightfully relatable.
As young twenty-somethings entering ‘adult’ life, Smith Westerns tackle many insecurities our generation collectively faces- Loneliness, insecurity, and a shift away from a once idealized perspective. 3 Am Spiritual, the record’s highlight, is certainly a spiritual track, evoking an almost Elton john personality (particularly the outro).
The record is well written and masterfully produced, but not always particularly innovative. It begs the question, when does a homage suffice as a basis for the sonic make-up of a band. In this instance, the success of the record is derived from its ability to speak to so many other millennials; and as their fan base continues to grow we can only hope they will find their footing as an unadulterated rock group once more.