When the intimidatingly youthful Smith Westerns appeared in 2009, they were thankfully lacking any sign of a musical maturity that surpassed their years. This Chicago band were exactly like any gang of 18 year old kids should be: snotty, uncaring, fuzzy and love struck. I mean, they sounded like a perfectly timed high five between No Age-ish garage-punk and T-Rex glam, with hints of Teenage Fanclub and spike-the-punch style teen pop. However, after being moderately hyped, they seemed to slip into the void of 7/10 Pitchfork bands. So when I heard that they had signed to Fat Possum and were releasing a sophomore album, I was pretty stoked and immediately started irritating my neighbours with their new single.

Said single, 'Weekend', turns out to be the first track on the album and makes a pretty fucking good case for the rest of the set. Although the band had lost that shitty garage production which originally charmed me, and at times sound suspiciously like Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, they make up for it with a simple and sugary pop song. One thing I'm glad about is that both the single and album retain those stupid, obvious lyrics that this music was always meant for. Hence, "Weekends are never fun unless you're around here" and "na na na na"- rather than lame 'metaphors' and 'similes' that everyone knows were invented for total squares, anyway.

Listening to the album as a whole, it's biggest problem is this newly-added production shine. One of the reasons why the first Smith Western album worked so well was because the band sounded like it was channelling the glam-rock ridiculousness of acts like T-Rex or David Bowie through some kind of dumb, hormonal lo-fi machine. So without this background fuzz, the band often steer dangerously towards arena rock ( see 'Smile' and 'Only One') with less of an ironic snigger than you would hope for. But don't fear too much Smith Westerners, tracks like 'Dance Away' and 'Dye the World' are still as hip swinging as their 2009 counterparts, and the new production even brings out some of the band's sonic subtleties that may have been ignored the first time round.

The new sound causes the album to end up pretty hit or miss, but definitely more diverse: it would now be easy to draw comparisons to anything from The Shins to The Sonics. But is this what Smith Westerns should be doing? Part of me welcomes such exploration, and the band still make me think of a girl dancing around her room with a hairbrush microphone. Only this time, maybe she's had a few too many singing lessons.