Coming off nearly two years of teaser tracks that hinted at a more vibrant and indie pop-sound, Philadelphia native band The Districts delivered You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere on Fat Possum Records, a record that is intimate, quaint, and often heartbreaking.
Nevertheless, its an album that deserves a listen and will find you humming tracks long after the record wraps up its final moments. With this record serving as a follow up to 2017’s explosive Popular Manipulations, some
heavy expectations may have been placed on The Districts.
Where their previous work was able to craft incredibly dense sound murals bolstered by the inspirations of early 2000’s indie groups, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is quite reserved by comparison with minimal instruments taking place throughout the track listing.
“My Only Ghost” opens on a decidedly dramatic and dreary note. Vocals sound broken and drenched in pain as they echo in an empty soundscape. Likewise, acoustic number “Descend” is bare boned leading to an intimately bittersweet tune that ends in some ambient synth sounds before fading away.
“Dancer” perhaps emphasizes the minimal approach as an upbeat acoustic guitar intimately dances with Rob Grote’s vocals before becoming accompanied with a scarce funky bass, saxophone, and a few strings for good measure. It’s definitely one of the more impressive songs within the Districts’ discography. That’s not to say that this record is without strong full band arrangements throughout the 44 minute journey.
“Hey Jo” sounds like it was something left over from the previous record; boasting a strong sense of optimism, beautifully bright guitars, amazing vocals, and some ambient sound effects to enhance the experience, the track perfectly encapsulates what a summer song should sound like.
Likewise, “Cheap Regrets” is a fun and playful disco inspired track that features a spoken word verse that has to have been influenced somewhat by Debbie Harry. The especially fast and merciless “Sidecar” provides a dramatic shift from the rest of the track list. It may be somewhat jarring and different to what is on the rest of the album but is easily forgiven because it’s so damn good. “Changing” as well as “Velour and Velcro” find some questionable vocal performances, which is frustrating because the beautiful instrumentation soars and shows that a great song is still hidden somewhere underneath the clutter.
“You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere” is not the album that many fans of the Districts may have been expecting, especially since their last album and its subsequent teaser tracks hinted at a more pop friendly sounding album with beautiful walls of sound akin to the bands of the 2000’s.
The end result is a number of intimate and minimally instrumented tracks along with some songs that are reminiscent of what fans may have been looking forward to. By no means is it a perfect listen, but there are some moments that will reward the listener as well as provide many impressive songwriting moments.
By Caleb Ortiz