It seems lately that terms like “shoegaze” and “dreampop” have been used at such ad nauseum that they have been essentially rendered useless. Any band that so much as uses an effect pedal or feedback has one or the other slapped onto their description.This is unfortunate, because every so often a real, tried and true, dreamy, noisy, poppy, shoegaze band emerges. Fortunately for us, such a band has taken form and materialized from none other than Cincinnati, Ohio. This band is Smut.
Smut is noise pop for the people. Marrying all of the good parts of all of the good genres the band has mastered their craft. Guitarists Andrew Min and Sam Ruschman bring tastefully fuzzed out and distorted riffs to the table; held up by the unmistakably solid rhythmic framework laid down by bassist Bell Cenower and drummer Chris Campbell; and at the forefront of it all, is vocalist Tay Roebuck. At times commanding and peremptory, there are other moments where the power of her voice is matched by the rest of the band. Within that control is a distinct effortlessness and this sets her apart while simultaneously fashioning the band’s purist shoegaze identity.
End of Sam-soon enters in a sweeping atmospheric daze, establishes its intelligible dream pop character, sticks around just long enough to get stuck in your head, and exits into the noisy and vocal-less void. Don’t mistake their certified shoegaze status for lack of catchy hooks though. Through the haze of it all, they are in fact a pop band. A dark, twisted version of a pop band, but a pop band nonetheless. This pop quality prevents Smut’s poetic yet morose lyrical content from being just another typical moody, melancholic drag. A seemingly paradoxical sound, the unique pairing of sullenness and melodiousness defines the group, and is perhaps their most endearing quality.
At the heart of it all, Smut is a band that acknowledges a musical past that is frequently drawn from and appreciated, while bringing their own idiosyncratic quality to the equation. The result is a singular product, a singular sound, that is really a compilation of all of the “good parts”. This is a band that knows what they are doing, and they know they do it well. With no weak link to speak of, there’s something new to appreciate and focus on just about every time you listen. Consequently, End of Sam-soon may be on repeat for awhile as you take it all in, and learn its intricacies - each one as captivating as the last.