Uniting crunchy guitars with swirling synths, Smut embrace a liminality and experimentation that pushes the boundaries of pop music. The Chicago-based five-piece blend melody and moodiness to yield to a droney and percussive pop. As of late their influences stem from shoegaze, 90s hip hop, and trip-hop. Bell Cenower’s biting bass lines creep below the surface, while Aidan O'Connor's drums carry the rhythm with fiery precision. Andrew Min’s & Sam Ruschman’s distorted guitar melodies lift the band to explosive heights. Hovering over her bandmates' wall of sound, Tay Roebuck’s caustically sung meditations on grief, guilt, and growing into oneself make us nostalgic for shoegaze bands past.
Smut have conquered national tours with acts like Nothing, Swirlies, and Bully. Previously working as an actor, Roebuck’s performance is uninhibited, reflective of the stage presence of Blur’s Damon Albarn. During moments of extended instrumental sludge, Roebuck will step off to the side to take in the expansive whirlwind her bandmates have created.
On their EP Power Fantasy we find Smut in a state of transition. Opening track ‘Fan Age’ begins in a dreamscape of guitar chords as Roebuck sings of climbing the backs of giants. About a minute and a half in, Smut has their feet firmly planted as ‘Fan Age’ transforms into an infectious, self-assured anthem-- “I don’t feel bad, I hold no guilt.” The EP’s title track finds Roebuck assuming the role of the underdog, hyping herself up to save the world, only to realize that no one person can save everyone. The band’s trip-hop influences show their teeth in the slow building strong closer ‘Perfect Dark’, inspired by the N64 game of the same name. Power Fantasy demonstrates a new direction for the indie outfit, one characterized by continued self-reflection and sonic renewal.