“I was falling in love with someone new,” The Districts’ frontman Rob Grote recently said in a promotional statement. ‘And trying to juggle this desperate desire to escape with the need to show up in my life’.
This is as fitting an introduction to the band’s new album as you could wish for. You know I’m Not Going Anywhere is a record of contradictions; lofty yet engaging. Experimental yet familiar. Expansive yet confessional. The Districts fell victim to their own success when, following the release of 2015’s A Flourish and a Spoil and 2017’s Popular Manipulations, the band found themselves becoming an unlikely mainstream draw.
A gruelling tour schedule and ever-growing pangs of anxiety led Rob and his bandmates to disappear for a while, with just a couple of single releases to tide fans over in the interim.
You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is an uplifting return for the Philadelphia Indie-rock outfit. The album feels less claustrophobic and shackled than previous releases, with The Districts seemingly taking ownership of their more repressed influences and running with them.
‘Hey Joe’ incorporate a climatic Pop chorus. Whilst ‘Velour and Velcro’ channels The Joshua Tree-era Bono. And ‘Descend’ sees the band touching base with their recognisable brand of distorted Folk.
Early single and album highlight ‘Cheap Regrets’ unashamedly pairs The Districts’ penchant for fuzzy guitars with an unrestrained roller-disco hook. The track is another gleaming example of how juxtaposition and contrast has been used to create an album that keeps The groups fanbase fulfilled, whilst allowing their sound to surrender to new elements.
The Districts have matured, not only spiritually, but philosophically during their downtime. Songs are more expansive than ever before, and Grote has been putting his own songwriting under the microscope in a way that hadn’t been done in previous campaigns. Liberated and spacious sounds are counterbalanced with tracks of honesty and uncontextualised darkness. Album closer ‘4th of July’ concludes; “We left our bodies on the bank / And when the tide came in they sank / Into the blue moons glow / 4th of July”.
You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is an exercise in escapism; both sonically for the listener, and literally for the band themselves. The Districts are forging a strong catalogue and garnering a reputation for being fiercely consistent songwriters. Long may their streak continue.