Smith & Thell’s debut album is utterly human: Independently released today (5/12/2017), Soulprints evokes an array of powerful emotions through the expert balance of clever, provocative lyrics and colorful, infectious melodies.
“Sometimes you’re just super in love and need to say that, and sometimes it’s the music that helps us put a sound on an emotion that is hard to define,” mused the Swedish duo in our interview last December. Whether they’re dealing with loss, celebrating life, tackling depression or just singing for the hell of it, Smith & Thell’s vibrant music always takes listeners on a journey. They excel at catapulting the individual into the universal without sacrificing meaning or depth.
After establishing themselves as one of Sweden’s most sought after songwriter and producer combinations, Maria Jane Smith and Victor Thell introduced their own enigmatic brand of folk/pop with 2015’s debut single, “Statue (The Pills Song).” Beneath jangling guitars, dynamic percussion and a cinematic chorus lay an intimate story of struggle and perseverance.
There’s pills for heartache
there’s pills to fall in love too.
But here take a picture
I might as well be a statue.
But don’t raise attraction
I just stand there and smile.
Blank as a paper
There’ll be no ups and no downs
Singles “ROW” and “February” followed, one a potent fight song and the other a darkly self-critical ballad. Each release uncovered new aspects of Smith & Thell’s artistry slowly, the duo’s unique creative spirit was shared with the world.
But I’m as low as low can be
And I just go home and watch TV
I wish that I could smoke some weed
But it makes me way too deep
Seems like nothing works on me
Today marks a major milestone for Smith & Thell as they unveil Soulprints to the world. Bold, catchy and all-encompassing, the band’s debut album radiates with warm energy. Despite its varied tones, timbres and textures, it is an impressively cohesive work that finds Smith & Thell touching on “experiences from childhood and the naïve joy, to growing up and talking about real life everyday issues.”
“Although the topics seem dark, we hope our message about the topics will resonate and give strength,” they state. Once again, Smith & Thell’s debut album is utterly human. Listen to the full record here, and peek inside Soulprints with Atwood Magazine as Smith & Thell provide their personal take on each of the album’s songs.
“Statue [The Pills Song]” – Smith & Thell
:: Inside Soulprints ::
“Statue” is the first song we released as Smith & Thell and has helped define us as a very lyrically driven and honest duo. The message of this song is basically us saying “fuck you” to the capitalistic society that tells people to hide their feelings with pills, instead of just being OK with who they are and what they feel. Humans need love, not doctors and pills.
Cabin Out in Nowhere
We wrote this song in Stockholm upon returning from a trip to NYC. While in New York, we saw a bird eating KFC chicken. Besides the obvious fact of that simply being fucked, it made us realize that maybe the birds are even brainwashed by the billboards and part of the “over-consumption” society we live in today. It made us want to disappear to a quiet cabin, in the middle of nowhere, for a while.
“Row” is our fight song! We realize that life doesn’t go “merrily down the stream” like we were told it would when we were younger and that life, much like a body of water, sometimes forces you to battle upstream. The message of the song is really about facing life’s obstacles and instead of giving up and being “washed away with the tide” you need to keep on “rowing” through those hard times in order to make it out alive.
“Toast” is about forgiving even the hardest things to forgive, in order to help yourself move on. This is the best song to drink to on the album!
Hey Hey Oh Bae
The most naive song on the record. This is about the honeymoon phase of love, when you feel like you want to just quit your job and do nothing but hang out with each other all day and night. You know it’s a bad idea, but you do it anyway.
The weather was cold, grey and gloomy in the way only Stockholm gets in the month of February 2016. Life felt like a long, uphill struggle and neither of us felt like seeing people. The only thing we noticed was hollow- eyed people on the subway, walking into each other and stepping on each other’s feet. We were both laying on the couch and Victor was sitting at the piano, playing to himself. Suddenly from nowhere Maria started singing to the melancholic chords: ”I said to my hands, now go make some friends. You touch the remote more than your lover. But I’m as low as low can be. So I just stay home and watch TV (…) seems like nothing works on me this February.”
Under the Moon
This is our love song. It is about two broken people somehow magically finding each other, amongst so many people living under the moon. It is also the only song that uses “Soleprints,” the album title, as a lyric.
Feathers & Gasoline
This song captures a memory of the beginning stages of a relationship. Lyrically it is a reflection of us asking ourselves why we took so long to just say that we loved one another, when it was so obvious. The title of the song means a lot to us. There is a lesson with love that although on the surface you may not think you’ll mix, that if you let love happen, even feathers and gasoline can end up working out in a way. When we listen to this one, it gives us the urge to go on adventures and realize how beautiful the world is when you’re in love.
Garden of Eden
“Garden Of Eden” is the only song we’ve ever written using real life memories about my (Marias) childhood. A poem about a paradise that vanished.
Somebody Like You
This song was inspired by our recent trip to Joshua Tree in California. We wanted to capture the “epicness” of the landscape and the powerful emotions we felt being in a place that is so big, yet so silent. The size of the mountains are a metaphor for what love should be like; silent, strong and something there for you no matter what.
Passion can blindly lead you to a point that is quite dangerous. Our favorite lyric from the song is “Simmer through my veins, this poison. I love you too much to function”
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cover © Smith & Thell