Written by Fense
The Smittens (MySpace) fit the darker side of indie pop, a side not often heard but easily welcome. Their chord progressions are filled with minors and, while ultimately upbeat, the songs are not nearly as cheerful. This rings as true on “The Interstate” as it does on “Half My Heart Beats”, a song that is undoubtedly more upbeat and cheerful, but one that also includes several of the aforementioned darker elements.
Now, this doesn’t mean that The Smittens are filled with evil or are overly emotive or sad. They aren’t. They’ve simply tweaked the typical genre sensibilities of indie pop to create a unique sound a bit out of the norm.
Sure, these songs include frequent hand claps, as well as the beloved tambourine, but the guitars have a unique distortion for the sub-genre and the vocals are tweaked in an equally fresh way; a super low male voice counteracts with a more “normal” male voice and higher-pitched female voice. Despite these statements, the songs on The Coolest Thing About Love are all super poppy. Tunes like “C’mon! (When The Grass Grows Tall And…)” and “On Hundred Roses” are instant favorites.
Perhaps the album highpoint is “It’s A Saturday”, where the group spells out their name S-M-I-T-T-E-N-S and launches into a chorus of What the fuck / Yeah, it’s a Saturday, where “yeah” is often replaced with a band member’s first name as the chorus continues. So good!
While referencing Calvin Johnson is a bit of a stretch in comparison to the lower of the male voices, as Johnson’s vocals are about as low as they get, it’s about the closest one can come. Furthermore, Johnson filled an odd role in the development of US twee – he and his earlier moniker Halo Benders were less pop and more folk than you’ll hear from The Smittens. Still, all these elements lead up to The Coolest Thing About Love being an interesting album, both highly enjoyable and super fun.
Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records [CD, 2009]
1. The Interstate
2. Half My Heart Beats
4. C’mon! (When The Grass Grows Tall And Green)
5. Baby, Don’t You Know
6. Something Sassy
7. Good To Go
8. Magpies And Eccles Cakes
9. One Hundred Roses
10. All The Love In The World
11. It’s A Saturday
12. H&M (+A)
14. The One For Me