The Smith Street Band – ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’

By Kathryn Black

“Part of me wants to be dead, part of me’s so happy to be alive.” The line from ‘Run Into The World’ isn’t the only time Wil Wagner – lead singer of The Smith Street Band – references the struggle between enjoying and hating life. There’s a consistency to the sound and excitement of the music, but this is an album of contradictions.

Opener ‘Forrest’s lyrics carry a juxtaposition between sincerity and humour. ‘Passiona’s upbeat melody contrasts with inward-looking lyrics about lost relationships and personal failings and a comment on the music industry. Matching the ethereal with the gritty, the angelic backing vocals of ‘Shine’ somehow compliment the anger and frustration projected throughout.

During ‘Birthdays’ Wagner says he wants to be “alone,” “surrounded,” “transient” and “grounded”. The constant battle between ranging feelings is approached with an honesty we don’t see this clear cut too often. As more songs pass and more thoughts are shared, so builds an empathy between the performer and the listener. ‘Song For You’ might not have been written specifically for you but alongside the rest of the album, it sounds like it was.

‘Death To The Lads’ is an obvious highlight. The chorus is made for a whole crowd to sing along with the band: loud and uplifting. Already a favourite at live shows, it’s a feeling so many of us have captured in the simplest of hooks. In comparison, the introduction to ‘Suffer’ has the power and atmosphere of Arcade Fire: huge and attention-grabbing.

The Smith Street Band’s honest lyrics and consistent energy are captivating. They sound messy and loveable but polished and experienced, and through twelve tracks of punk rock ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’ gives a voice to those of us who feel like a piece of shit most of the time, but with an unfaltering hope that things might change.

KATHRYN BLACK

Three more album reviews for you

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Dead Pony – ‘IGNORE THIS’

Bayside - ‘THERE ARE WORSE THINGS THAN BEING ALIVE’