By Aaron Symonds
Erupting back onto the Australian Punk Rock scene with their new album: ‘More Scared of You than You Are of Me’, Melbourne four piece, The Smith Street Band, have produced another success.
For those that have not listened to the band before, I highly suggest giving them a listen. Wil Wagner’s lyrics create beautiful imagery of personal situations from his own experiences and those of his friends. The tone of the band, as shown in this new album, can be quite dark in its catharsis of emotions to do with depression, loss and regret (‘It Kills Me To Have To Be Alive’). Yet it is also refreshingly upbeat and hopeful, showing that life isn’t so bad if you have others to share it with (‘Birthdays’). The band shows a lot of technique and diversity; switching from acoustic lullaby to thrash in an instant as seen in ‘Young Once’. Michael Fitzgerald on bass and Lee Hartney on lead guitar can produce quite impressive riffs and transform a melodic song into a powerful frenzy. With Chris Cowburn on drums, the band gives a real pulsing kick that, from experience of their gigs, I can imagine crowd surfing and moshing away to, songs like the opening track ‘Forrest’ demonstrate this. I can also imagine a continuation of the great band interaction with crowds, an audience sing-along particularly possible for the catchy single ‘Death To The Lads’.
However, the energy of the album seems to deteriorate as it goes deeper and deeper into the narrator’s psyche. The title of the album, encapsulated in ‘Passiona’ (‘I’m absolutely infinitely more scared of you than you are of me’), summarises the vibe of the album. From the trauma Wil’s persona has gone through, it is obvious, in references throughout the album, that he is more afraid of letting love back into his life and getting hurt again, than the person he is seeing, scared of his pushy impatience. I love this band for this reason, their raw exposure of humanity. They strip away the cliché of heartbreak to leave the fragile interior that we are all desperate to cover up, and show that, although breakable, people can be rebuilt again. In ‘25’ the clear theme is that, whoever you are, we all age and, instead of caring about meaningless things, we should focus on loved ones.
I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for a song that summarises hopefulness and self-acceptance. My favourite song from this album is ‘Laughing – Or Pretending To Laugh’ it simplistically completes the album, with Wil’s persona finally finding someone he has the courage to talk and buy a drink with. The story is left to be continued by a crackle of static that leaves the song unfinished, giving the listener a sense of satisfaction but also longing. If you want music that really speaks to you, this is your band.