Review: Rett Smith
By Doug Freeman, Fri., April 22, 2022
With last year's What the Walls Cannot See, Rett Smith doled out a bruising, brooding template. The album leaned more heavily on the Texas songwriter's lyrics, pushing his intense and dark vocals to the fore as he catastrophized love. New EP Americana Drugs remains on theme but laces in the rocking impulses of Smith's previous outfit, SAENTS, as the lead track "Brighton Bar" scorches electric guitar over the slowly boiling percussion. Smith still thrashes against the melancholy misery as he tortures himself crawling across barroom floors and fantasizing about murderous border town revenge ("Better Run"), but here pummels toward catharsis. Jessica Lea Mayfield, who dueted on Walls centerpiece "The Hook," returns to burn the lonely lingering of "I'll Still Stay," her vocals echoing the avalanche of a broken heart on the chorus. Outlier among the four tracks, closer "Billy Wayne Reed" turns from the solipsistic wallowing and suggests where Smith might be headed next. The song drives with the ominous psychedelic impulse of the Black Angels and cornered breathlessness of its fugitive on the run. Smith is still trying to find the right balance of leaden solemnity and erupting force, but Drugs moves him closer to achieving that alchemy.