The Smith Street Band – More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

“She yelled – Tell Jesus he’s a fucking loser!” … and with Will Wagner screaming that line The Smith Street Band’s fourth full length album kicks into full effect with the bands most punk song to date, Forrest. This first song recounts a trip to Forrest, the country town in Victoria where TSSB recorded Throw Me In The River, from a near car crash, to the pub pool table rules, the dread of heading back to the city and of course touching on the relationship failure that underpins the entire album. This song flows [somewhat clumsily] into the first single that was released from the album, Birthdays; a song that doesn’t quite do it for me but will undoubtedly appeal to most Smith Street fans.

Moving into the third song of the album, Death To The Lads, it is clear that this album is more a collection of songs rather than the smooth flowing artwork that was Throw Me In The River. This is an observation more than a criticism, while I like albums to flow for listening on vinyl, stand alone songs make for a better experience when shuffling on Spotify or when the songs are played live. Moving on from my personal album structure preferences, this song is excellent and proves how self aware TSSB are. Having seen the TSSB live over 15 times by 2015, I didn’t see them between the 2015 Poison City Weekender and the November 2017 Midnight Oil concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. There is a very simple reason for this and it is not a lack of love for the band but rather that their crowds are horrible; the last few gigs I had seen were saturated by absolutely hammered ‘lads’ who wanted to do nothing other than get drunk and hit people with no repercussions. That is why I love this song so much, it is an acknowledgement that they’re not happy about the behaviour of their fan base and a direct attempt to use their position to get through to the ‘lads’; whether or not it is working, however, is up for debate.

I could continue to work through this album on a song by song basis but I know I need to get on with the review so lets skip forward to song 5, Passiona. This is my favourite song on the album where it feels like Wil is being absolutely vulnerable in his lyrics while not hiding behind the music. The song is largely quiet, putting the focus on the lyrics, getting slightly louder as it goes on, but remaining a vocal heavy song. This is where the album gets its title, from the lyrics “I’m absolutely infinitely more scared of you than you are of me. And I’ve always been the one who cares too much.” but they’re not the most important lyrics of the song, the song comes together as a whole to explore Wil’s anxiety from panic attacks on German TV to not fitting in with “band boys”. I can’t tell if the song is aimed at anyone in particular, the expectations of fans, of record labels, of ex-partners or other bands, but it is an excellent display of emotion.

With Passiona beginning the quiet section of the record, it flows into Run Into The World, a passionate account of a recent failed relationship, demonstrating how much Wil wanted it to work and how devastated he is. That said, he manages to gently (tastefully even?) point some lyrics at how he felt let down in the relationship; “I never wanna see you sad, but that does not mean that you are right” | “I don’t think it’s cool that you started ’cause it is what I sing about. I’m learning not to romanticise destroying tissue with self-doubt”. Laura Stevenson’s vocals brilliantly compliment the gentle sound of the song and Will leaves with some acknowledgement of fault and learning adding that he will “do this so much better next time”.

From this point on the album sounds more similar to the bands second album, Sunshine & Technology, providing some familiarity to the longer time listeners. Lyrically, the album is a step above any of TSSBs previous releases, being much more personal and openly addressing mental health struggles, in particular anxiety; however it can sometimes feel like oversharing the details of a recent breakup. Subjectively, I prefer the musical stylings of No One Gets Lost Anymore and Throw Me In The River but objectively, this is far and above the best piece of work TSSB have released to date.


Matt Power
8 December 2017

Full Disclosure

Feeling Tired
Drinking CbCo Pale Ale (x1)
Recent Listening N.W.A
How I Listened Modern Vinyl (legacy turntable)

The Smith Street Band More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

Artist The Smith Street Band
Album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me
Released 07 April 2017
Label Pool House Records
Tracks 12
Run Time 45 minutes
Genre Punk

The Smith Street Band More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me