These United States: Crimes
Crimes begins labyrinthine and grandiose, shoving Cain, Dionysius, Don Quixote and Chief Logan into the first two minutes of cataloging opener “West Won.” But where digressive hyper-reference pulled some punch from These United States’ debut, A Picture of the Three of Us At the Gate to the Garden of Eden, helmsman Jesse Elliott cites with a surgeon’s precision in his second go-round. The 12-song cycle coils around itself in tales that rage and lull in turns, Elliott charting thieves’ honor, murderous worlds, science, space, salvation and sin in a brittle croon. For having such heavy themes, Crimes’ shuffling feel is an impressive achievement, indicative of the finicky alloy the band managed to forge here. Steady-on folk songwriting has matured to include full-bodied, rise-and-fall structures and call-and-response choruses, while a jangling sheath of electric psychedelics and babbling piano lines—contributed by a cast of D.C. players (now not just debut-collaborator David Strackany)—marks this compendium as a rousing, communal affair befitting its epic and twisted ambition.
Listen to These United States' "Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)" from Crimes: