Smokescreens – Used To Yesterday
A faultless addition to Slumberland Records, Smokescreens' Used To Yesterday is indie pop as it should be: melodic, lyrically astute, bittersweet and catchy as hell
For a label that – to a relative few – still remains an obscurity, New Zealand label Flying Nun Records has a lot to answer for. The Dunedin outpost spawned some of the most influential bands of the 1980s and the sound it helped to create is more pervasive now than ever. Smokescreens, an indie pop band based in LA, attempt to recreate the breezy, optimistic sound of Kiwi-pop with perhaps a little more conviction than most. So much so, that on first inspection Used To Yesterday sounds like an undiscovered gem from the label’s early roster.
Still, Smokescreens don’t stick to just one formula. Instead, there are disparate influences at play: from the static power-pop of the title track to the soporific, Velvet Underground-esque Fool Me, Smokescreens are brazenly open about what informs them – using it as a tool to create a hybrid of sounds they love, rather than hiding behind any pretense. Used To Yesterday marries the old with new, with more contemporary influences elicited on tracks like Jolly Jane, for example, which subtly recalls the bouncy, lo-fi pop of ex-label mates Cause Co-Motion!
Used To Yesterday isn’t particularly unique – Smokescreens’ take on indie pop is as endemic as it's easy to get wrong. But the band’s melodic impulse shines brightly on their second LP, as does a propensity for nuance and colour. Here, Smokescreens have achieved the deceivingly difficult task of creating simple, perfectly wrought pop songs with substance. A faultless addition to Slumberland Records, this is indie pop as it should be: melodic, lyrically astute, bittersweet and catchy as hell.
Listen to: Jolly Jane, The Lost Song