! = recommended
* = all-ages
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The Smittens are a sugary mound of twee girl-boy pop, and if you are a fan of A) indie pop, or B) being in love -- you just might become smitten yourself. After all, as the title suggests, The Coolest Thing About Love celebrates all the good things about love, missing your better half from a long distance, and knowing that they're the one. I found the coolest thing about the Smittens wasn't just their penchant for writing catchy keyboard melodies, but that they have 3 singers with distinctive tones and thus go beyond the usual boy singer/girl singer indie pop modus operandi. Singers Dana Kaplan and Colin Clary man the helm as the main singers, and sometimes Max Andrucki's baritone pops up out of nowhere, sounding eerily similar to Stephen Merritt (never a bad thing, really).
Out of the 14 songs on the album, a few stand out above the rest, including "Something Sassy" and album closer "The One For Me." The next time you're looking for the words to say "let's just have fun and not analyze things," just have your partner listen to the former, in which Kaplan and Clary declare "I don't want something drastic/i'm just looking for something sassy." The sweetness is in full swing with "Gumdrops," a horribly catchy tune (trust me, you won't get the chorus out of your head for days) that starts with Andrucki singing the puzzling lyric, "I really like you/my new librarian/but where you been?" before the equally puzzling gleefully sung chorus, "bubble floss heart-shape candy shell/something's started/can't you tell?"
The laidback and downtempo "Magpies and Eccles Cakes" is a welcome respite from the upbeat pop of the rest of the album, and sounds like a collaboration between the Magnetic Fields and Belle and Sebastian. The final minute is a breath of fresh air, a concession that everything changes while we keep pressing on: "but the planes are turning round/and the world keeps spinning round/and your head keeps spinning round."
Overall, The Smittens are like a trip to the candy store, full of extremely sweet and sometimes overwhelmingly saccharine morsels -- definitely not for the faint of heart, or at least the un-indie-pop-initiated. But if you're indeed not up for anything serious, just looking for something sassy -- look no further.