The worry with still-teenage bands who’ve crafted an awesome live reputation is they get too hyped too soon and spook like dogs hearing fireworks. They hit the studio only to emerge months later, blinking into the daylight, having lost the spark that made them great.
No such concern with The Districts, whose philosophy in their short life has been: record now, worry later. The four-piece, from a small Pennsylvanian town called Lititz, self-released the gravelly-sounding ‘Telephone’ back in 2012 while they were still at school. Last year, they followed it with an equally hard-riffing self-titled EP. Their iron is hot, and they’re striking the shit out of it. ‘A Flourish And A Spoil’, their debut for Mississippi indie label Fat Possum, is less polished than Shane MacGowan’s bathtub, and just as full of infectious grunge.
Ramshackle opener ‘4th And Roebling’ comes on like The Libertines raised on moonshine instead of gin in teacups, and will rattle around your skull for weeks. There’s a scrappy exuberance to tracks like ‘Peaches’, with it’s My Bloody Valentine howl, and the slower ‘Chlorine’, that suggests a band who heard Dinosaur Jr’s ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ and decided to see just how loud they can play.
There are misfires, like the psychy echo on ‘Hounds’ that sounds like hearing a gig from the toilets, or ‘Sing The Song’ which resembles a scratched My Morning Jacket record and renders singer Rob Grote’s usually full-blooded voice a strained shadow of itself.
But tracks such as the melancholy ‘Suburban Smell’ redeems them. Essentially a Grote solo track, the 19-year-old frontman strums a sparse acoustic melody and meditates on a real-life incident when he realised small-town life wasn’t for him after seeing a group of jocks bullying a mentally handicapped child.
‘Young Blood’ is better still, and the album’s centrepiece. Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, it’s the perfect example of The Districts capturing the ferocious squall that gave them that live reputation.
This isn’t the band as a finished product, rather a snapshot of them as they began to understand their power. A freshly squeezed record with the pulp left in it.
- Director: John Congleton
- Record label: Fat Possum
- Release date: 09 Feb, 2015