Mischievously baby-faced Chicago teenagers chewing out carefree rhythms on barbed-wire bubblegum, Smith Westerns battered a collection of glam-rock earworms with no-fi production and barely contained youthful arrogance on 2009's self-titled debut. For Dye It Blonde, the group moves up to the big leagues without losing the comely insouciance that’s bound to make Smith Westerns 2011’s sexiest teen idols of 1973. Sounding like the Bay City Rollers as produced by George Harrison, Dye It Blonde blows kisses at all the little girls, promising dreams fulfilled and nights danced away on clouds of billowy pianos, shiny guitars, and breathy vocals. Pouty lead singer Cullen Omori is cute in an appropriately non-sexual way, and when he sings shy come-ons like “weekends are never fun, unless you’re around here, too,” you can practically hear the panties-wetting screams chasing his voice into the ether.
Teen dreaminess aside, Dye It Blonde shows that Smith Westerns’ giddy mash-ups of stately Beatles melodies and T. Rex swagger play even better when buffed to a high gloss. Smith Westerns are still so young and wondrously lacking in self-consciousness, the group doesn’t bother hiding its influences, boldly naming its most blatant Beatles/ELO rip-off “Imagine Pt. 3.” Originality takes a backseat to pleasure here, and Smith Westerns pull out all stops, living up to melodramatically anthemic song titles like “All Die Young” with shout-along choruses that explode out of seductively dreamy verses. It isn’t exactly smart, but no matter: with a sugar rush this intense, thinking is no match for smiling.