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Glam Slam

by David King on January 19, 2011

Smith Westerns
Dye It Blonde

Its not like the world needed any more artists bent on copping the bopping beats, fuzzed-out guitar squeal, elfin vocals, and pompy backup singing of T. Rex. But if someone is going to do it again, they better do it right—and Smith Westerns do just that.

The band’s self-titled debut was as garage and lo-fi as it was T. Rex-obsessed, but Dye It Blonde embraces headphone-sexing, Tony Visconti-style production, and it’s covered in enough reverb to make you wonder if any will be left over for bands like Fleet Foxes and Wavves. On “All Die Young,” the band deliver their approximation of “Children of the Revolution,” anthemic and grand, swelling with organs and ooh-oohs.

On “Still New,” they prove over and over again the the classic formula works as they break the pop waves with a searing guitar lick. It’s not quite a solo, and the trick happens so many times in the song that you would think it would be impossible to fall for it. But each time that lick hits, your heart jumps. It is a shameless take on T. Rex’s “Ballrooms of Mars” (and even ends with a bit of backwards tape riffing, like “Ballrooms”). But Cullen Omori’s vocals make the song something totally different—his vocals are slight, much slighter than Bolan’s, and while Bolan made his songs supernatural with lyrics like “John Lennon knows your name and I’ve seen him,” Omori makes his simplistic lyrics and vocals flow along with the song, more like another instrument than a rock star.

If you like a good indie album with a heaping helping of old-school glam styling, you can’t do much better than Dye It Blonde. If you are a T.Rex fan, pick up this album for the same warm feeling any of that band’s classic albums ever gave you. Seriously, it’s that good.