New Misery is the solo debut from Smith Western frontman Cullen Omori. These eleven songs borrow the charm of his old band, along with melancholic indie-rock songwriting and ghostly lo-fi vocals. You can choose between authentic cassette, CD, standard vinyl or limited independent-only coloured vinyl, all from Sub Pop.
6/10 Clinton Staff review, 22 March 2016
Some records just want you to ignore them. Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori doesn’t have the most memorable name (what were his parents thinking?) and the cover image of a potted plant sans pot doesn’t draw me in either.
What Omori does do is make the sort of gentle but sky-scraping guitar pop that other folks such as Abi Buffalo make, perhaps though without those amazing melodies that such bands occasionally come up with. It’s an album of pleasantly produced plod along pop, his John Lennon-ish voice glides over vaguely Mercury Rev/Flaming Lips styled tunes. On ‘Cinnamon’ he hits a seam of Wild Nothing ish 80’s jangle and synth which stands out from the ghostly sounds elsewhere. Again it’s an album shrouded in fog but the melodies are just not strong enough to break through. The ballad ‘Poison Dart’ starts promisingly but the production is just awful with some truly dreadful synths - a shame as somewhere in there is a the album’s best melody and one that could be heartfelt if it actually wanted to connect to our soul. Elsewhere 'Sour Silk' at a push could be Jagwar Ma.
And that just about sums the whole thing up. Sub Pop must be pretty sure about this as they’ve released the thing on four formats. I respect their confidence.
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- New Misery by Cullen Omori
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