Smyles is a solo project created by Ryley Pitts out of his home studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. During his time at Nimbus School of Recording and Media, Pitts wrote and recorded four songs which found their way onto his debut EP Koroshi. The four songs were influenced by many genres such as alternative rock, folk, indie, R&B and movie scores and were written over the course of a year in his basement.
Thematically, his songwriting deals with issues of self-image, regret, nostalgia and relationships. Pitts states that his songs could be compared to bands like Bon Iver, Daughter, Radiohead and Julien Baker. Pitts had additional help from Teeya Pitts on backing vocals and Josh Thompson on violin and engineering.
The opening track “Spine” begins with some dreamscape/airy sounds, lofty and light. Ethereal would be another word I would use to describe Smyles’ sound. In a lounge-like fashion, the song reminded me of Beck’s Sea Change, if what I’m remembering from that album matches somewhat. I like the sound of Pitts’ guitar and the effects he used, but I can’t say I’m into the “tinny” sounds of the drum machine choices he made.
“Keep Looking Back” is soulful and vulnerable. It’s a sad and melancholic sound – the violin, the backing vocals, even the drum choices. Smyles reflects on the subject of looking back at rejection and keeping distance from a relationship that did not end well. “Reckless, Restless” once again returns to a dreamy and soulful sound,\ with flavors of R&B and soft romantic ballads. I think the line “I would have brought out the moon / And ruined the whole sky” sums up the feelings within the song quite well. But here again, instrumentally speaking, I am not a fan of the tight “bass” drum that sounds like a skipping record. Not that I hate programmed drums, not at all, just his choice.
“Hummingbird’ starts off with beautiful rolling piano measures inside a gorgeous melody. Pitts’ songwriting has less content in this tune. Its format is more contemporary poetry, meaning no traditional forms or rhyming. His words seem to address a struggle between something that was perfect like “humming bird wings” but also, something that had been around like “old wounds” and not being able to “stomach you.”
His words “the same worms will eat you too” really cuts to the quick and puts things in perspective, especially when it comes to ending a bad relationship. But Pitts could be singing about a bad self-image here as well. If that’s the case, his lyrics are dark. Very dark. After three minutes in, drums accompany the piano, as well as some light guitar and bring the song to its close. This EP is a good debut overall.
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