Taking out the haunting synths of their 2007 debut, A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gates of Heaven, These United States go full-on into gritty Southern alt-country/blues on Crimes. Particularly impressive are their up-tempo numbers, which draw upon some wicked saloon stomp.
These United States set the stage perfectly with opener “West Won”, not just pointing the direction of Crimes, but driving down those dark roads through troubled times. Things go more upbeat with the following “Susie at the Seashore” and “Get Yourself Home (In Search of the Mistress Whose Kisses Are Famous)”, the former a dirty-blues upswing, the latter an up-rhythm country-twang procession. However, Crimes doesn’t serve These United States as well when the band gets slower in the early middle with “Pleasure and Pain and Pride and Me” and “We Go Down to That Corner”, both of which drag too much.
But all that is forgiven with “Honor Amongst Thieves”, the record’s clear stand out, thanks to its catchy upbeat vagabond-swing which will keep toes a-tappin’. The back half of Crimes plays much like the first, stronger on the rhythmic hepsteppers like the honky-tonk “Six Fast Bullets (Five Complaints)” and “Those Low Country Girls”, though the soft “Study the Moon” is perhaps the best slow track on the record, thanks to slyness to its wistful touch. And the album ends with the pressing shake-along – and classic backbeat riff – on “When You’re Traveling at the Speed of Light”.
While These United States have changed up their sound since The Gates of Heaven, they haven’t radically changed up the general dirty-country/blues sound. But when they inject it with energy, the bar is a-rockin’ – and you better come a-knockin’…
MP3 Stream: "Honor Amongst Thieves"