Album Review: The Smith Street Band - More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

Written by Daniel Rourke

In 2014 The Smith Street Band released the most definitive album of their career, ‘Throw Me In The River.’ Released through Banquet Records in the UK, the band’s third outing lead to an upgrade in venue sizes, as well as a trip around the European festival circuit.

Almost three years on, the band are back with their follow up to ‘Throw Me In The River,’ ‘More Scared of You Than You Are Of Me.’

Opening track Forrest proves to be a nod to The Smith Street Band of old. As the title references the Australian settlement in which the band recorded their breakout third record, Wil Wagner’s frantically raucous vocals spit out a naïve clamber for understanding that is so often found the band’s songs: “I wanna kiss you on the mouth a little bit too hard / it took years to figure out who we actually are.

As Forrest bookends the Smith Street Band of previous years, Birthdays maturely saunters into the fray. The track proves to be the perfect indicator of just where ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’ is going, as Wagner uses the record to walk the listener through a failing relationship built around his anxieties and his own mental health.

Mental health acts as the crux of the record, as self-deprecation, doubt and a longing for understanding creep into almost every nook and cranny time and again. Passiona plays heavily into the these themes, as Wagner sings about his anxieties and caring too much. It isn’t the only time Wagner bares his soul either, as the sombre chords of It Kills Me To Have To Be Alive act as the backdrop to one of the most honest songs he has ever written.

Entangled in Wagner’s confessions of mental struggles is the overarching tale of a relationship gone sour, it's a battle that sees Wagner tackle the fear of not being good enough in 25, and asking the pertinent question of: “What if…” in Young Once.

While The Smith Street Band tend to lean on the crutches of Wagner’s ability to spin a tale that is not only emotive, but relatable, it’s in ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’ that the band become noticeable as a unit.

Whether it’s the dower mumbles of Wagner and his guitar in Laughing (Or Pretending To Laugh) that eventually swell into something beautiful, the overwhelmingly brilliant opening of Suffer that sees Lee Hartney, Chris Cowburn and Fitzy Fitzgerald produce a sound we haven’t heard from the band before, or the occasional use of horn and string sections throughout the record, there’s something both different and mature to be found in almost every track on the band’s fourth outing.