Well and truly reigniting the flame for punk rock and roll, The U.S. Americans have a sound that artistically backs up their name and ferociously expresses a series of ideas relating to free thought, as well as a sound that occasionally crosses over into the indie-rock and blues-rock worlds, not to mention a few flickers of metal and even country from time to time.
Playtime starts things off with a bang, soaking its audience in raw energy, riffs, and things to consider. Money In America highlights a different topic but still floats closely above the overall landscape that is America and American life. The sound here is different already, the leading vocal leans even more-so in the direction of punk-rock. It’s the sound of protest, an aversion to the norm – it’s heavy, striking, nostalgic and simultaneously relevant to the feelings of many at this current time. Dance Song 17 brings out the style and character of an infectious and quickly recognisable riff. The spacious nature of this track leaves plenty of room to consider what’s taking place around you. The vocals appear as distant, soaked in reverb and some of its similar, electronically sourced friends. The simplicity and swagger of this song stand in contrast with each other and help make for a colourful moment within the project.
Innocent Fools has a similar energy, a Hendrix-esque electric guitar part frolics freely as the distant vocal once again appears in a seemingly freestyle manner – to provoke thought, and to get a hell of a lot of things off its chest. The ambiance is infectious here, beautifully addictive and reminiscent of a similar time in history during which revolution and positive change were peaking their heads out from behind the system.
As this entire project unfolds around you, the power and creativity of the music is matched in an incredibly authentic manner by the sentiment and soul driving it through. From Manolo to Movies the mood changes quite dramatically. The arrangement of these songs is as effective as the atmosphere created by them, and Movies is yet another spacious and reflective moment – within which your own mind experiences something of a temporary come-down from what has just passed. The band lean towards the synth-pop side of indie at this point, reinforcing the eclectic nature of their musicality yet still holding tight to those threads – the signature traits that make up their sound.
Fade Out follows on beautifully, sharply contrasting the calm with the chaos and bringing both subtlety and volume to the stage. Then you get Storytime, another moment at which the opening riff alone draws you in, and then quite literally the story telling takes place and leaves you silently gripped by each and every line, before it merges gorgeously into the iconic and incredibly powerful King Someday. If you weren’t quite under their spell just yet, the lyricism around this time is fairly certain to leave you slightly hypnotised and at the absolute mercy of the audio pouring over you.
Lazy Suzy lightens the musical mood a little, an upbeat shuffle and a seemingly laid back concept erupt into life. However, as you’d know by now, things are very rarely as they seem on this project. There’s far more to these anecdotes and tales than the character and flair of the performances may imply. The underlying issues are as real as can be, and the more you listen, the more you start to realise the conceptual essence of the whole collection.
The manic vibrancy of punk-rock returns in full force for FCK THE KGB, even injecting a touch of country rock into the melody line and performance style. This one goes hard, energizes you, makes itself a go-to track for those moments requiring action. Then things come to a delicately thoughtful finish with Dentist Street, another song that leaves you wondering if there’s a distinction between metaphor and reality. It’s a poignant way to finish, and it gives you a moment to sit back and consider what a ride this has all been. Greatest Hits is a fantastic project, the perfect choice for anyone with a burning desire to embrace the skillful, re-vamped and newly relevant sound of genuine punk rock and roll.