The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Breakup inspires new pop-folk album from local group

The end of the marital engagement between the two Smile Smile band members, Ryan Hamilton and Jency Hirunrusme, led to the creation of their second pop-folk album, “Truth on Tape.” The two began their musical union while in a romantic relationship with one another in 2005.

After acquiring a guitar from a dumpster and a second-hand organ, the two embarked on a music career.     The duo gained recognition among the Dallas music community with the debut of their freshman indie-rock album, “Blue Roses.”

Just as the two musicians appeared to have found their calling, they ended their relationship on grounds of infidelity. The devastating breakup paved the way for a new song list similar to that of their first album, except for a distinct, overarching feeling of melancholy.

Lyrics in the “Truth on Tape” album consist of a few innocent, lovey-dovey expressions and numerous unabashed break-up refrains. The innocence and awkwardness of initial infatuation described in the song “Nothing to Lose” demonstrates the light-hearted side of love with a buoyant beat. Although, “Tempo Bledsoe” also tackles the issue of uncertain love, its gloomy tempo irrevocably separates it from its cheerful counterpart.The remaining songs on the album are about relationships.

While most of these relationship songs explore issues between two lovers, one song in particular concerns the pain a child feels due to an absent father. “Sleepwalking” tells the story of a son recalling the day when his father walked out the door without saying goodbye. “I can close my eyes,” sings Hamilton, “and hear the song you sang at night. Can you sing me to sleep? I think I need a lullaby.”

The song itself flows softly and sweetly like a lullaby, maintaining the melancholy ambiance prevalent throughout the whole album.The song “Days Go By” dives into the uneasy uncertainty before a breakup. With phrases such as, “Maybe I can’t handle this…Days go by…I can’t handle this,” the song demonstrates the last few tenuous moments before the separation. With the alternating female and male voices in the chorus line, “I can’t handle this,” the song sounds like an actual conversation between two diverging hearts happening right in the listener’s ear.”Truth on Tape” also consists of a couple of songs that play the tune of a breakup in process. 

“Beg You to Stay” says: “I don’t want you to go, I wish you would consider this home,” and then repeats a few times, “Ask me and I’ll beg you to stay.” The lyrics are desperate and pitiful—the words of someone who is in denial that the relationship is a failure and therefore has trouble breaking up. Hamilton sings: “Yeah I sing a lot about love. It’s only ‘cause I love you so much,” leaving the listener to infer that he is the one who can’t let go.

The monotonous repetition of the words “beg you to stay” makes listeners wish they could tell Hamilton: “Okay, we get it. Just let it go already.” The majority of songs on the album deal with the aftermath of a breakup.

“Goodbye Caroline” follows suit with the rest with a pitifully sappy tune. The line “It seems so hard to see you girl, even though I’m dreaming of you every night” shows how foolish and pathetic Hamilton portrays the male part throughout the album. He successfully channels a whiney cocker spaniel clawing at the front door as he waits for its owner to return.

Someone needs to break it to Hamilton that she won’t come running back into his arms as long as he sings pathetic lyrics like these. One unusual song that sits in a lovesick category all on its own is “Cancer.” The song relays the unlikely simile, “Live your life like I’ve got cancer.” While the beat is catchy, a listener can’t help but stop at those words and think, “Gee, is that appropriate?”

Cancer is serious, severe, depressing, unfortunate and many more unpleasant things; it is an unfortunate experience one should never wish upon another. And Smile Smile thought this would be a catchy allegory for a song? Think again, Hamilton… This, too, won’t help you get Hirunrusme back in your life.

One main problem with the song lyrics across the board is that love songs are not a new concept. With that said, there are ways to reinvent an old idea. While pitiful, lovelorn lyrics are not the most novel idea, Smile Smile may have captured reinvention within “Cancer.”

It’s doubtful that another band has beaten Smile Smile to the chase and already used the comparison of “live your life like I’ve got cancer.”

Smile Smile has a unique sound that bares little resemblance to most trendy alternative music, except maybe the band Wilco. Wilco shares similar light melodies and high-pitched male vocals. A few big differences between Wilco and Smile Smile is that the former has grown in each new album and gained recognition.

Smile Smile’s second album is not much different from its first: It includes the same combination of upbeat melodies with offbeat lyrics. The melody is relatively the same from song to song, with one minor difference – the beat occasionally kicks up a notch, but a small one at that.

For the most part, the whole album seams like one never-ending song, which could be useful if Smile Smile were trying to tell a story, but they’re not. Their relationship songs are in a mixed order, so the album does not follow any sort of chronological pattern. One decipherable pattern that does run through all of the songs on the album is ceaseless repetition in the main chorus during each of the songs. Maybe Smile Smile should name their next album “Innovation on Tape?” … And hopefully get a clue.


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