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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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