Smith Westerns: Soft Will

The Chicago trio Smith Westerns sound more British than the British bands they sound like. On their third album, they move far away from their garage-rock starting point and construct an expertly lyrical world of yearning and insinuation. Singer Cullen Omori often seems to be staggering toward a fainting couch ("Chain-smoked my days away/Wrote my poems"), and he immerses his longing, and his lyrics, in dense, gentle thickets of echoing guitars and strummy keyboards. Like Catherine Wheel, Lush and Spiritualized – millennial U.K. bands who started around the time Omori was born – Smith Westerns see beauty in a shy, hesitant type of sadness.