Statehood - Lies and Rhetoric (Cover Artwork)


Lies and Rhetoric (2007)


Washington DC's Statehood, made up of ex-members of Dismemberment Plan, have crafted a stellar debut that pays homage and further expands the stark indie rock and post-punk vision set by otherpopular DC bands that have also called the USA's capital city home, whether it's by creating urgent and emotive sing-along choruses ("A Story's End"), fierce and frantic post-punk chaos ("Giants") or tight and funky grooves anchored by an impressive rhythm section ("Save Yourself") -- and all of this is just contained within the first three songs.

Guitarist/vocalist Clark Sabine, as mentioned before, has an incredibly unique, emotive and nuanced voice that breaks a lot of typical conventions found in most indie rock and sings with a passion that rises and falls with the tempo of the music and creates an entirely new layer of melody. He is a dynamic frontman that at times stylistically reminds the listener of an American version of Robert Smith.

The rhythm section made up of bassist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley (the same pair who also did a lot to develop Dismemberment Plan's sound) are a dynamic duo who are unafraid to try looser arrangements rarely found in a lot of bands today that adds a distinctly dangerous but nonetheless sexy groove to the incredibly busy, tight guitars and the urgency of Sabine's voice. This is notable in the song "Hidden Views," which starts with a simple guitar line while Easely moves around the kit playing with different sounds over a fairly standard disco beat laying down a swelling cadence until the whole band decrescendos into noise and a single guitar and then explodes back into a huge and rocking breakdown section with Sabine holding his own singing loudly, "We've lost our innocence" and making the listener hold on and believe every word.

This experienced group of musicians has crafted an incredible piece of work in Lies and Rhetoric. By building rather than merely copying time honored conventions in their songwriting, Statehood has managed to do what few bands can do: create unique, subtle, and complex songs while staying completely accessible to the casual listener, from the first guitar strum until the band's final urging to unplug it all in the appropriately titled "Disconnect."