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Music Review: Untied States – Instant Everything, Constant Nothing

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Atlanta’s Untied States walk between innovation and imitation so often that it’s hard to tell what to make of them, even after several listens of their Instant Everything, Constant Nothing disc.

Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and Untied States’ untidy, fumbling Radiohead routine is actually quite effective. The album title is apt as all hell, too, as the music can be everything and nothing all at once. The bombardment of swirling, spiraling noise and messy, abnormal vocals takes some getting used to, but the results are ultimately rewarding.

Instant Everything, Constant Nothing is the band’s third album. Released in the United Kingdom first, the record is finally out in the rest of Europe and in the United States c/o Distile Records.

The five-piece is kind of all over the map and the comparisons are ripe for the picking, but there is the sense that Untied States really are trying to wage their own war on concept rock here. I read a snippet of a review that noted that these guys could “have played straight rock had they so desired.” After a few listens, I think Untied States actually are playing straight rock – or at least their interpretation of it.

That is to say that nothing on Instant Everything, Constant Nothing tells me that the band set out to be eccentric for the sake of it. When Colin Arnstein conjures up Yorke and others, he does so because he means it. His vocals are natural extensions of his internal disorder, in other words, and the reality is on display for all to hear.

Take “Delusions are Grander” as an example. The track volleys back and forth between exasperating, brash blasts of screamo madness and soft, sinuous slowness. Arnstein floats readily between the two sides, offering a transparent but unassailable sense for the theatrical. But instead of merely being showy, Arnstein comes across like a guy who’s actually, you know, into it.

At the core of Instant Everything, Constant Nothing is that very “it.” These are songs with meat, with substance. These aren’t songs that are for pretentious, piddly indie kids looking for an excuse to brag about another “obscure” band. These is music for you and me. This is music that falls apart.

With unusual, wavering, punching pieces like “Unsilvered Mirrors” and “Wrestling with Entropy in the Rehabbed Factory,” it’s easy to dismiss this album as experimental. In truth, the only thing Untied States are actually experimenting with here is musical honesty. These songs, these explosions of artistic pandemonium, really are the only songs Arnstein and Co. can write because they’re the only songs they actually feel.

Instant Everything, Constant Nothing won’t be for everyone. It is a “weird” album. But fans of sincerity, in all its shapes and colours, will find something to dig in these Untied States.

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About Jordan Richardson