Statehood – Lies and Rhetoric

Lies and Rhetoric

The Dismemberment Plan is one of those great, disregarded bands who released a couple of terrific albums, including 1999’s Emergency & I. And for some reason their bassist, Eric Axelson, seems unsatisfied with the success they have garnered. Not only did he help form the maligned Maritime but he has now started a new band in Statehood with fellow Dismemberment Planner, Joe Easley. But instead of following in the footsteps of what worked for them on the aforementioned Emergency & I, Lies and Rhetoric is plain and simple, another failed side project.

Though it tries to be produce a freely constructed but energetic experience, its failure comes in the lackluster music. Singer Clark Sabine’s vocals are forced, simplistic and tedious in their delivery and overall feel. The production doesn’t help either; the band tried to make a jumpy, catchy album but with somewhat muddled sound and equipment. A lot of times, Sabine sounds like he is singing inside of a cardboard box.

“Disconnect” longs to be one of the album’s saving points but it’s neither captivating nor vibrant enough to salvage anything. The instruments are messily scattered throughout the song — everything from a menacing guitar to a caterwauling bass are unevenly mixed and Sabine’s shouts are almost unbearable.

If the band hoped to re-create the experience of what it would sound like to make an album “in a basement with some coffee and a soccer ball” (like the press release states) well, they definitely succeeded. The opener, “A Story’s End” starts the album off decently with some crunchy guitar interplay and edgy bass playing but the album falters and skitters from here. “Save Yourself” begins well enough with a scaled-back ferocity and the chorus is one of the best moments on the album but it ultimately dies down because of its almost five-minute length.

A song like “Transfixed” is cramped by screeching guitars that try too hard to sound like Bloc Party’s and Sabine’s disingenuous, trite lyrics of revenge and love loss. It’s a duplicitous approach that only hinders the music’s already absent energy and drive. The guitars are repetitive and lifeless, Axelson’s very own bass is plodding and lumbering and the drums are almost nonexistent. Who would have thought that accomplished musicians like these could make such a insensible record?