The band moved to London to make the record and that, according to Hayden Thorpe, drew them "back to the Lake District, the soundscape of that place." "Smother refers to the pillow we were resting our heads - the album really was the place where our heads, thoughts and dreams were at the time... The duality of the word 'smother' is important to us as well - that mad human dynamic of doing the right things for all the wrong reasons or doing the wrong things for all the right reasons", the singer said.
Reviewing the album for BBC Music, Mike Diver wrote, "[Wild Beasts] are, right now, the most inspirational, intriguing, effortlessly enrapturing band at work [in Britain]. And Smother might well prove to be the album of 2011." Jon Pareles of The New York Times said, "In songs suffused with need and vulnerability, the music leaves itself open, waiting to be approached."
Uncut placed the album at number 8 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011". while Mojo placed the album at number 10.