Maybe Smith is Colin Skrapek, a striking one-piece ensemble who relishes in the comfort of a harsh Saskatchewan winter. His fourth and previous release, the self-described “electro-alt-country” affair Second Best Death, garnered praise as “a highlight of Canadian indie music” (Exclaim!) and “a lovingly hand-crafted DIY affair, veined with a quiet genius” (Vue Weekly). Popular mp3 bloggers such as Sixeyes, Fingertips and Indie Music Filter took notice, too. By the end of 2006, Maybe Smith was earning comparisons to Dan Snaith, Elvis Costello, Grandaddy and Andrew Whiteman, while popping up on best-of-the-year podcasts from CBC Radio 3 and others.
How Maybe Smith would follow up Second Best Death was a bit of a conundrum, but the answer proved to be surprisingly simple: ditch the acoustic guitar and quit crying. Listening to the song “Wah-Wah” by George Harrison on repeat helped guide the way.
The result is Animals & Architects, Maybe Smith’s fourth full-length effort and fifth release overall and since 2002. Animals & Architects is an album full of rollicking pop songs sparked at every chord change with sing-along vocals, pounding drums and curious electronics. From the opening guitar line and closing la-la’s of lead-off track “Open War”, through to the piano banging and electronic chaos of closer “Bad Swimmer”, this delightful wall-of-sound is like a wonderfully bizarre combination of Phil Spector and Frank Gehry.