A Flourish and a Spoil by The Districts


The Districts are Rob Grote, Pat Cassidy, Connor Jacobus, and Braden Lawrence; but in a way, they’re so much more. Riding the line between folk and rock, few bands have evolved and grown their sound like this one. In 2012, while just out of high school, Telephone was self released and gained a cult following. Before this, they had put out two EP’s on Bandcamp.

Starting out of Lititz, and later moving to Philadelphia, the group is proud of their Pennsylvanian heritage. After Telephone, Fat Possum Records signed them, and since then it’s been love at first sight. Since signing, The Districts still put out music with them, touring often. If you’d like to learn more about The Districts, you can read more in my review of their recent record, Popular Manipulations.

No other song could compare to the electric opening track, “4th and Roebling”. This song has energy and clicks in place like the rest. Every song on here has a chorus that will stick in your head. I can’t think of any of these as the big hit, they all really feel like anthems made for radio. Compared to Telephone, this is a real evolution of their sound, and really shows Rob Grote finding his voice.

Let’s take a second to talk about “Chlorine”, and it’s pounding chorus “It’s such a shame, no one’s feeling it now.” This line sticks with me like no other on this album. After “Suburban Smell”, it sounds like it repeats it a little. Some tracks on the B-side feel like they have similar progressions and rhythm.

If there had to be a lead single on this record, it would be “Young Blood”. This song is the longest on the album on the record, at almost eight and three quarters of a minute, and defines the changes this record made perfectly. Really, it’s two songs. The first part is perfect for radio, and the second part is this long instrumental segment, while Grote repeats “It’s a long way down from the top to the bottom. It’s a long way back to the high from where I am.” This seems like a complex statement with many meanings. Personally, I see a parallel to coping with popularity, yet knowing you’re still in the shadows of multi-platinum bands and artists. This theme is shared among many upcoming groups, young groups, Young Blood (dramatic, I know).

The closer to this album, “6AM”, is another lo-fi, acoustic, transition track similar to “Suburban Smell” in purpose, but much more anthem-like and dramatic. It feels like a harkening back to their old material, like hearing old recordings cut in to songs. While “Suburban Smell” acts as an ending to side A and a transition to another side, “6 AM” is the ending of this album, and a transition to a scary, unknown future for us and the band.  

Thank the lords for Discogs! This record is good old black vinyl, which I think looks absolutely stunning in the photos. The handwriting in the lyrics reminds me of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, which really helps me connect to the band. Something worth mentioning is the two exclusive colors, purple and transparent green. The latter I feel uniquely fits the cover and music, being swampy and organic. The purple one was an exclusive for Rough Trade record stores, and the transparent green records were reportedly from a tour the group did.

A band’s sophomore album is usually where the group comes into their own and experiments with their sound. A Flourish and a Spoil is this and so much more. If you find yourself into rough, lo-fi, Bandcamp music, I highly recommend it. For me, this album has really gotten me into anthem songs, and if I find more, you can be sure I’ll send it your way.

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