Plumbiferous Media

Everything Touches Everything – These United States

Sep 3rd 2009
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Everything Touches Everything - These United StatesThese United States
Everything Touches Everything
Score: 64

These United States (based in Washington D.C.) has been active since 2006, but since 2008 the band has released a slew of albums. Their most recent, Everything Touches Everything, shows off the band’s interesting amalgamation of alternative rock and country, but is not in itself a showy record. Though it has numerous strengths, it is weakened by over-simplicity and constancy.

Jesse Elliott’s voice epitomizes the sound of These United States in its variety of facets and influences. Elliott is influenced, both by turns and simultaneously, by the alternative rock and country bases of the band. This combination gives his voice a power which spans the entire album, but which also seems to lock Elliott into a certain number of patterns through the album. Elliott’s voice soars at the points of greatest energy, especially at the end of “I Want You To Keep Everything” – but these are offset to some degree by weaker sections where Elliott slips into a whine that clashes with the rest of the music.

The lyrics of Everything Touches Everything are well-matched to Elliott’s voice – oddly deep, image-laden, but sadly somewhat repetitive and ultimately dull. The best lines are those which don’t suffer unduly from the repetition and thus manage to avoid becoming completely overworked, such as the mildly amusing “How do you think this night is gonna conclude? / If you’ve got the inclination / I’ve got the dancing shoes.” In a regrettably perfect example of this, the last lines of the album would have been much stronger if they hadn’t occurred once before about half way through that same track – because, while “”I have tried / Not to experience time / In the same way / Once / Twice / Walked that delirious line” ended the album well, the effect was somewhat dampened by its lack of uniqueness as well as the repetition of “Good night” that followed it.

Taken as a whole, Everything Touches Everything is a varied album. The album’s opening track, though occasionally interspersed with melodic accents that somewhat shape the track, remains mostly repetitive from start to finish. Its successor, “Will It Ever,” uses a guitar that often falls nearly in unison tonally with the voice, and the glisses often included at the end of phrases sometimes interact perplexingly with the heavy country mood of the track. Later, during “Good Bones,” the well constructed instrumentals are contrasted by uninteresting, simple vocals. A large number of tracks, while technically promising, either remain uninteresting musically or are simply too long to survive their repetition.

On the other hand, “Everything Touches Everything” contains a very successful guitar solo, “Night and the Revolution” contrasts nicely with the earlier tracks and builds towards its completion quite well, and the interaction between the bass, percussion, and guitar of “The Important Thing” is amazingly well done.

Everything Touches Everything has a lot going for it. These United States has combined a number of musical genres and the expertise of a number of musicians into a single album without letting it fall into a muddle. But in doing this they’ve sacrificed quite a lot of the color that could have been present in the album, and Everything Touches Everything is left significantly more generic and unengaging than it should have been. But to a certain degree, the creativity of These United States shines through, and so Everything Touches Everything is more good than bad. It’s simply not as successful as it could have been.

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