The Districts – Great American Painting

The soundtrack of our collective revival...

"There's no fun left in this town" says The Districts, but we disagree; the markedly dance-ier tone of their latest release is a sweeping pivot toward the future of the garage rock band. The Districts are back with their fifth album, as promised, after the enjoyable 'You Know I'm Not Going Anywhere.'

'Great American Painting' is a record that is strongest for its instrumentation, featuring The Districts' typical cross-streams of guitars that amply lamenting vocals, intriguing listeners by making reference to social issues within America.

Recorded at the legendary Sunset Sound in LA, 'Great American Painting' was inspired by frontman Rob Grote's feelings of in-between exhumed by the pandemic. Passing two months in a cabin in Washington, Grote was mesmerised by the disparity between the serene landscapes of rural America and the tumultuous protests he'd previously attended in Philadelphia.

This simplistic notion is best evidenced in the lead single 'I Want To Feel It All' – a breathless whirlwind emerging through sparkling synths, inspired by an acid trip. From his acid tower, Grote details his yearning to experience absolutely everything and the restrictions holding him back. The textures in this track are gorgeous, as is the album's opener – 'Revival Psalm'. Synths bob in and out amongst Grote's jangly vocals and guitar toplines – instrumentation reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem's later oeuvre.

A strong foundation, 'Revival Psalm' is closely followed by the measured 'No Blood'. Don't be fooled by the optimistic tone, though, 'No Blood' sings of gun violence – a long-standing anxiety of Grote's after he was locked-in during a performance on the night of the Paris terrorist attack. The power in this track boosts its aural simplicity, which unveils the feeling behind the final refrain: 'there's no blood left in this town.' White Devil' in comparison, verges on dad rock with a half-hearted political message that, in the context of the album, feels shorter than its peers.  

The Districts paint a Great American Painting that taps its toes in the pool of social justice without feeling overbearing or holding the holier-than-thou attitude we've come to know of some rock bands' reinventions. The twirling guitar of final track 'On Our Parting, My Beloved' (subjectively the best track on the album) reminds us, rather optimistically, that some good is yet to come. Although our present is terrifying, things shall pass "You will feel the fever leave you / You will see the hairs lie down" – and The Districts are here to soundtrack our collective revival.


Words: Gem Stokes

– – –

– – –

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.