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The Districts deliver a hopeful and triumphant fifth album with Great American Painting

"Great American Painting"

Release date: 11 February 2022
The districts great american painting art
03 March 2022, 06:23 Written by Hannah Broughton
Up until now, The Districts have managed to stay fairly under the radar here in the UK.

Having formed while they were still in high school back in 2009, they’ve progressed from gritty Americana-infused garage rock to embracing the dance-rock genre — most notably on the undeniably catchy “Cheap Regrets”, from their previous album You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere. However, garage rock fans needn’t feel the urge to back away, the scuzzy guitars are still here, but the Philadelphia band have come a long way since their “Funeral Beds” days, as good as they were.

Great American Painting kicks off with the hopeful and epic sounding “Revival Psalm”, and vocalist Rob Grote gets to work on demonstrating his impressive vocal range. As ever with The Districts, the guitar parts are strong and emotive throughout the record, and there is no shortage of catchy riffs here. Most of the songs were written by Grote during his reclusive cabin stay in Washington State, definitely one of the more pleasant consequences of living through a worldwide pandemic. The whole record evokes a sense of unspoiled landscapes, freedom, and wilderness within its all-encompassing anthemic approach, while touching on difficult themes such as gun violence, capitalism, and gentrification.

It is certainly interesting, and usually necessary when bands choose to grapple with big and current social issues in their music, however, it’s often the more personal songs that carry the biggest impact. The previously released “Outlaw Love” is a well-refined depiction of heartache, illustrating the pain and paranoia of realising when someone doesn’t love you anymore, and wondering if they ever did - “Now you haunt me / Every promise like a curse, every memory like you never could’ve loved me”. One of the more gritty tracks “Hover” is The Districts at their cathartic best, intensified with nostalgic undertones - “What were these lost days / a series of forget me nots / sand between your fingers under blood red skies”.

Produced by the renowned Joe Chiccareli - known for working with indie favourites The Strokes, Morrissey, and The Shins, to name a few - this is an album that speaks of revelations and looking towards the future, all tightly wound into a neat parcel of tracks that you’ll likely want to listen to over and over again. It’s easy for bands to stay in the safety realms of a genre and continue to deliver similar-sounding albums, but The Districts have evolved into something bigger and brighter with their fifth release. Turns out Great American Painting is pretty great.

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