Lyric Video: Chicago’s Smut Shares Heartbreaking “Let Me Hate”

Chicago-based indie outfit Smut — Tay Roebuck (vocals), Andrew Min (guitar), Bell Cenower (bass, synth), Sam Ruschman (guitar, synth) and Aidan O’Connor (drums) — will be releasing their new album How the Light Felt on November 11 through Bayonet Records.

While 2020’s Power Fantasy EP saw Smut dipping its toe into more experimental waters, How the Light Felt reportedly sees the band diving head-first into their vast array of 80s and 90s influences, including OasisCocteau TwinsGorillaz, and Massive Attack — while pushing their sound in a new direction. 

How the Light Felt‘s material can be traced back to 2017: Following her sister’s death, Tay Roebuck turned to writing to help her navigate a labyrinth of grief and heartache. “This album is very much about the death of my little sister, who committed suicide a few weeks before her high school graduation in 2017,” Roebuck explains in press notes. ” “It was a moment in which my life was destroyed permanently, and it’s something you cannot prepare for.” 

Roebuck’s bandmates composed the song’s arrangements, excavating underutilized 90s guitar tones and drum beats to build an expansive sonic world for her lyrics. “A couple weeks after the funeral we played a show and I couldn’t keep it together,” Roebuck says, “but we just kept playing and started writing because it was truly all I felt I had, it was all I could do to feel any sense of purpose. For the past five years now I’ve been chipping my way through grief and loss and I think the album itself is just the story of a person working through living with a new weight on top of it all.”

While rooted in profound heartbreak and loss, the album’s material pairs nostalgic inducing guitar tones, lush yet unfussy production, lived-in lyricism, and earnest vocals in a way that turns pain into a bittersweet yet necessary catharsis. Certainly, if you’ve lost a loved one, the album will likely resonate with you on a deeper level than most. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “After Silver Leaves,” an infectious 120 Minutes era MTV alt rock-inspired anthem centered around reverb-drenched guitar jangle, driving rhythms paired with Roebuck’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, an enormous, sing-a-long worthy hook and a scorching guitar solo. While sonically recalling Reading, Writing and Arithmetic-era The Sundays, “After Silver Leaves” is rooted in deeply personal, embittering experience. 

“This song is about a former relationship I was in, it was really horribly abusive. But the approach to this one was to just spell it all out and see how silly it feels once shit really hits the fan,” Roebuck says. “The song sounds so happy, but I’m talking about driving someone to a hospital when they’ve overdosed. And having to detach myself and realize that maybe it’s not my job as a teenage girl to save some sad sack of a guy. I think a lot of young women will relate to that, unfortunately.”

How the Light Felt‘s latest single “Let Me Hate” continues the 120 Minutes MTV-era vibe with Roebuck’s gorgeous and plaintive vocal paired with glistening, reverb drenched guitars, a gently propulsive rhythm section and a soaring chorus. But unlike its immediate predecessor, “Let Me Hate” directly addresses the aftermath of a tragic death with an unvarnished honesty. And as a result, the song is equally frustrated, grief-stricken, confused, angry, lost and embittered — within a turn of a phrase.

“For years after my sister’s death I could not dream about her. I’d hear my family members talk about her visiting them in dreams and telling them she’s okay or misses them, there was a lot of mysticism going on the first few years,” Smut’s Tay Roebuck explains. “When I did start having dreams she was always out of reach, walking into another room as I entered or people would be assuring me she was present somewhere if I could find her. ‘Let Me Hate’ is about the first time I had a dream where my little sister spoke to me after she died. I knew if I let her go she’d slip away and when I woke up I was angry at myself. So it’s a very literal song.”

Created by the band’s Aidan O’Connor, the accompanying lyric video features photos from the band’s summer North American tour with indie darlings Wavves.

The members of smut will be embarking on a handful of fall US headlining tour dates that includes a November 12, 2022 stop at Alphaville. Check out the rest of the tour dates below. 

Smut Tour Dates:
Fri. Nov. 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Ortliebs
Sat. Nov. 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville
Mon. Nov. 14 – Washington, DC @ Pie Shop
Tue. Nov. 15 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
Wed. Nov. 16 – Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR Pub
Thu. Nov. 17 – Nashville, TN @ Third Man Records
Fri. Nov. 18 – Louisville, KY @ Whirling Tiger
Fri. Dec. 9 – Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village