It's fun to watch a promising young band figure out its sound, and in the case of Smith Westerns, many of us have had the pleasure of monitoring the Chicagoans' progress since they were fresh out of high school. Their ramshackle garage-rock debut had melodic kernels, and the follow-up, 2011's Britpop crib job Dye It Blonde
, boasted sturdier songwriting and more polished production. They've returned this year with Soft Will
, a dreamy cloud surf of an album. There are still choruses and glammy guitars, but this time around, they decorate soaring psych ballads. It's very pretty stuff and probably Smith Westerns' best album to date, though I'm still waiting for a hook to emerge that's as addictive as the one in the Dye It Blonde
The psych pop of the hilariously named opener Wampire is worth arriving early for.
Smith Westerns, with Wampire and Mr. History. Monday, August 5, at the Riot Room.