Hailing from Burlington in Vermont, The Smittens formed back in 2002, “on a whim at a party.” Five albums later, the sextet are one of the best-loved bands on the American indie-pop scene. Today we’re delighted to be sharing both news of the upcoming new album, City Rock Dove, as well as premiering the first track from it, Cats For Cats. The album, out in August on Fika Recordings, is the band’s first new material since 2016’s Love Record Breaker.
Cats For Cats goes a long way to squash any of the twee tags that followed The Smittens’ early work; it’s clear instantly this a band maturing into something more serious, moody and mature. The track initially came from songwriters Max Andrucki’s attempts to subtly (or otherwise) hide the gay-dating cliché Masc for Masc in a song, and his friend’s suggestion of Cats For Cats. Although as Max concludes, “maybe I just like cats, and especially the idea of cats as little, queer icons.” Away from the dating/cat references, the song is actually a little darker than you’d imagine, a song about, “being 40, and in a long-term relationship and horny, and again how the freedom of experimentation always comes with its own costs. Like dipping your toes in water, like sailing the open sea.”
Musically, it’s the sort of gloomy un-pop smash The Magnetic Fields, or Okkervil River have previously done so well; all bassy, baritone-vocals, waves of 80’s bedroom keyboards and steady rhythmic pulses. Even as the chorus swells into anthemic, harmonious majesty, it still sounds wistful, nostalgic, just a little bit sad; like a lone figure on the outskirts of a party, lost in their own thoughts as everyone else around them seems to be having the time of their life. Described by the band as an album of, “transition, ennui and nihilism”, City Rock Dove looks set to be an album that steers The Smittens into darker, and by the sound of this, even more interesting waters.
City Rock Dove is out in August via Fika Recordings. Click HERE for more information on The Smittens, including their UK tour dates in July.