As a pro-American, how could I not love a band called These United States? I saw them live at The Garrison last summer (where they put on a killer show), and recently revisited their music. First Sight (the first single from the 2002 album, A Picture of the Three of us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden) quickly became a favourite; there’s a basic beat that runs through the song’s entirety, but the song is distinctive in that there are no lyrical repetitions, just line after line of originality. The track hits it’s lyrical mastery at it’s midpoint, when These United States offer a paradox wrapped in an image of nighttime: “And then the world turned so fast it was astoundingly still / And it must have been that moment made of midnight on the hill.” And then there is the “cataracts-ed alley cat” who “spat back at the moon,” the cloud-keys “made of metal and spark.” There is the girl “with her mouth making movements to introduce thoughts,” the most compelling description of talk I’ve heard. Lest they fall into a dreamy space where songs become little more than a tripped-out collection of sights and sounds, These United States keep it grounded with images of an girl who’s “clutching her dress” on the subway.
Though the song’s near closing phrase “one grand epic sweep” isn’t self-referential (that would be pretentious, and the track it anything but), the song feels fitting of that description. It gets better with each listen, as the lyrics unravel and create an unshakeable impression.
Listen to their (self-described) literary-pop, alt-folk psychedelic tune here!