The Districts released their new album Popular Manipulations August 11, featuring their former indie rock sound, but richer and more developed. The band hails from Pennsylvania and earned their modest fame during their high school years.
The album opens with the song “If Before I Wake.” The lyrics open with “thunder woke me up, it was storming in the city, I was suddenly wide awake.” The song is the perfect introduction for the lyrically exciting album, as it acts as a wake up call for the band’s new success. The lyrics “too blessed to be depressed” and “god, I’m bending over, love me” perfectly exemplify Rob Grote’s raspy and addicting voice that captures and keeps the listener’s attention.
“Violet” is the second song on the album that touches on past memories. The song’s lyrics are sensual and just as colorful as the title: “lipstick smears, your hand in my mouth, I love how sweetly you dissolve in me.” Later the song “Salt” follows. The song’s lyrics are as salty as the tears following a heartbreak: “Why does it taste like salt? I could keep you company while it heals, but would you try to break my heart?” Moreover, the songs reflect defeat and unfortunate misrepresentation: “I thought you were hopeful, the last of a glow, until you burn out.” The songs “Violet” and “Salt” seem to be opposites, yet create a beautiful flow in the album.
Popular Manipulations follows the mourning of love with thick lyrics that display sadness and intrinsic depression. The album experiences the transition from a focus on romantic relations in “Why Would I Wanna Be” to a focus on self in “Airplane.” “Rattling of the Heart” is a song through which Grote really pours his heart out. This is demonstrated in the lyrics and the emphasis on the strain in his voice. Lyrics like: “I lost two grandfathers in six months, they don’t leave my head much, a suicide, one with vital signs, I watch him try to wake up,” “medication’s been tested, it might work the fastest, sedated and tragic” and “baby, there will be no more violent dreams” reflect a deep-seated loneliness and sadness. The honest lyrics are admirable and really display the band’s growth.
The band continues to evolve musically in pursuit a fresh, yet textured sound. The lyrics are honest and spoken through rich, beautiful vocals. The album cultivates themes of love, heartbreak, sadness and fear of the unknown. In my opinion, Popular Manipulations is a great achievement and even the band’s best album yet. Through this new album, the District’s provide fans with authentic indie rock and thought provoking lyrics.
After their recent performance in March, The Districts will be coming back to perform at the Haunt in Ithaca on October 13. Hopefully the lineup will feature some of their new songs like “If Before I Wake” and include their past hits “4th and Roebling” and “Lyla.” With the band’s growth and previously electrifying performance, I anticipate an exciting show.
Isabella York is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.