On Sunday nights I usually troll through my music library to see what I want to listen to on my train rides to NYC & when I’m being a data entry prodigy at work. This process usually keeps me up way later than I should be, but it does take me down varying paths of memory lane. Hence why a lot of my individual song posts on here have an associated memory attached to them.
“Smile” is taking us to my senior year of high school, but specifically my graduation day. I remember driving myself home from the event while listening to this song, which made me feel real nostalgic and a kind of sad happy, since I had a burned copy of the album in my car that I would listen to pretty much the entire year. It’s weird that I’m feeling nostalgic about a moment based on high school nostalgia, but that doesn’t matter.
Anyways, this album & this song in particular really spoke to me as an angsty teen ready to get out of high school. I was going to move away from all my friends and family to the unknown state of Connecticut in two months, meaning the world was basically ending. But now I’m almost a year out of college and I still can see where I was coming from back then: this album is bursting with youthful energy, which makes sense since Smith Westerns were almost all teens when they made this. It’s super breezy & fun, even on tracks like “All Die Young,” which despite the macabre title, turns into a light, sing-songy track that takes the impending stress of death off a bit. It’s just so refreshing and laid back, so easy to love.
Another note – after four years of not really listening to this album all the way through, I forgot how the instrumental energy on here is spectacular. The guitars are top notch, expertly channeling all the coolest parts of classic rock, occasionally dipping into the corny, but to great effects. Songwriting overall is also top-notch. Some of the finest pop rock songs I’ve ever heard, no doubt. It makes sense that one of the guitarists of this band, Max Kakacek, has gone on to form another band that I love dearly called Whitney which uses some of this same great energy. Chicago-based bands, man. They’re some of the best. Midwest is the best.
In the end, I’m here up late again on a Sunday night / Monday morning writing about music. I’m probably going to be up longer searching for more music to put on my phone, but who knows. We’ll all know if we see another post on here shortly after this one. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow. I hope I don’t miss my train. Thanks for reading.