The dual bandleaders of indie rockers Smile Smile, Jencey Hirunrusme and Ryan Hamilton, were engaged and happily in love. They wrote an album about it called Blue Roses. Then they broke up and wrote an album about that, Truth on Tape. Now in an effort to cement themselves as the leader of their own sub genre of break-up rock they have a new set of songs about the dissolution of relationships, Marry A Stranger.
While we’re talking about musical genres can I ask what the hell the term “indie rock” means anymore? Near as I can figure it used to mean that you sounded like Pavement or that your music was otherwise obviously weird. Smile Smile are not weird and most certainly do not sound like Pavement. Smile Smile are far closer to neo-Americana crooner Chris Isaak than anything I would think of as “indie”. This is good as far as I’m concerned because musical weirdness is overrated and Pavement are just absolutely horrid. Nowadays indie apparently means you have a rock band that is not obviously punk or metal, started in the 2000’s, and preferably has a front man or woman that looks somewhat nerdy. This doesn’t seem like a very useful set of criteria for classification. Let’s retire “indie”.
Anyway, aside from being able to continue to milk their personal relationship for material there is another good reason for Hirunrusme and Hamilton to stay together: their voices. Individually each singer is reasonably competent, but thin and not especially appealing. Together they create a fine instrument and they are smart enough to know it.
Of course the album’s centerpiece is the title song “Marry a Stranger”, in which H&H harmonize with each other about their desire to marry a stranger rather than go through the drama of getting back together again. It’s also them at their most Isaak-ish with a mid tempo country rock vibe. Also at this point I begin to worry that perhaps break-up rock can become a little heavy handed after a while. Do you think break-up rock could be expanded to break-up and house party rock?
Tags: Reviews, smile smile, Smile Smile - Marry A Stranger album review, Smile Smile - Marry A Stranger review