The ability to tell a story through music is an incredible thing. There are millions of bands on the planet, but the number who can sit down, play a song and take you on a journey is much smaller. It’s a talent that turns good songs into masterpieces. It allows you, as the listener, to connect with them in a way that a good riff just can’t do by itself. And it’s a talent that The Smith Street Band have.
Their fourth album, More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me, is many things but at its core, it’s a collection of good songs. Good songs that veer from rowdy punk to introspective melancholy. You can get away with a hell of a lot if you write good songs and if you do everything else well too, then you are onto a winner.
‘Forrest’ kicks us off and the first thought you’ll have is that this is one Australian band. There’s no hiding of the accent here. It’s a small thing, but it adds character. It gives them an authenticity that the best band singing with a whiny fake American accent will never be able to pull off.
It’s also undeniably lairy, which is a feeling that bursts out of nearly every song. This is an album that you can imagine bouncing around a room to with a beer in your hand. ‘Death To The Lads’ may declare that ‘things get better, but they never get good’, but it doesn’t stop that chorus being so big that you want to punch the sky.
That’s a feeling which will descend on you a few times during this album. As Will Wagner bellows ‘but if you’re here to block my rays, you’re gonna have to get the fuck outta my way, cause I will shine on you’ on ‘Shine’ you will clench your fist and scream it with him. While ‘Song For You’ is storytelling with a wild punk abandon. It’s fun, and it’s inspiring, and you want to be friends with the people that are singing these words.
All of which serves to make the moments where The Smith Street Band pull things back and go for introspection even more powerful. ’25’ talks about struggling to find a place in the world while ‘It Kills Me To Be Alive’ is a frank look at depression and dealing with the demons inside your own head. They are able to sit next to the spitting anger of ‘Suffer’, though, because they all come from the same mentality. That story telling is what shines through first and foremost.
Closer, ‘Laughing – Or Pretending To Laugh’, is smaller and more intimate. It’s almost muttered at times, and it draws you in. You can imagine being clustered in front of the stage with a tiny crowd sharing in the moment. It’s the perfect conclusion to an album that shines brightly. The Smith Street Band aren’t a new proposition, but this is the kind of album that gets you attention. If there’s any justice, we’ll be hearing these wild stories for a long time to come.