These United States

A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden (n / a)

Phases & Stages

These United States

A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden

Teaming D.C.'s Jesse Elliott and David Strackany (aka Paleo), These United States' debut is, as the title suggests, an exploration of exile and frustration of paradise just beyond reach. Elliott's scratchy voice rolls like a more soulful M. Ward, but his easy barrage of lyrical contortions evokes Andrew Bird's songbook, rhymes and alliteration unfolding in effortless streams ("Slow crows over a gold October, you're sitting getting colder as Van Gogh sobers"). Highlight and opener "First Sight" consciously cops Postal Service pulse, but Elliott's emotion lies in the shading dodge that dances ever on the periphery of his poeticism. "The Business" works horns and garagey surf-rock against the acoustic ache of "Diving Boards Pointed at the Sky," while "Burn This Bridge" kindles a choral swell uplifting in its refusal to regret. Yet Elliott's mortality-driven vision remains ever-elusive, or, as he scats on "Jenni Anne," "Here's the plan: There is no plan."

****

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