The third album from Burlington, Vt., band The Smittens reflects happiness fondly. The Coolest Thing About Love greets you like a more sensible, overtly smiling friend, and I’m too dazzled by its politeness to be irritated by the constant pep. This is a 14-song summer evening’s worth of harmonised twee, retro-facing good anglophile (i.e. pretty clearly American but Brit influenced) indie-pop that touches on the pricklier aspects of romance while remaining overwhelmingly celebratory.
“Magpies and Eccles Cakes” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in 2008. Getting the shakes from warm drinks and cake as the world turns is a pretty common occurrence, and deserves something this brilliant to at least name check it. “One Hundred Roses” is perhaps the moment where the parallels with 1990s Omaha indie super group Park Ave seemed strongest. A lover’s realised inability to look after someone annoyingly meaningful is appended with the explanation that “it doesn’t mean that I love you any less, it just means that I’m a mess myself.” “All the Love In the World” is beautifully besotted and sung over Billy Bragg’s “Sexuality.” The sincerity probably wins over the smirks, and I’m feeling stupid to question it against the general lushness of the whole thing. “It’s a Saturday” comes on strong like a 1980s teen Hollywood take on Belle and Sebastian, mad name-check backing vocals and all. Moments like the Beach buoyant “Half My Heart Beats” and “Good to Go” are characteristically upbeat like The Boy Least Likely To.
There’s also something in the layering and general outlook that recalls the debut Pipettes album, that acceptance of inevitable melancholy as a by product paired with determination to always go back for more of the good stuff. The twee turn of ’70s pop of “Baby Don’t You Know? and the 1950s tinged “Something Sassy” affix to the heart strings. By closedown on “The One For Me,” a happy blurredness abounds. The Coolest Thing About Love delivers on its title. This is great music to surrender your cynicism to.