Album Review: Priests - The Seduction of Kansas
Priests are redefining punk for the modern age. In a time when the Washington DC band lives in the same city as the most objectionable Leader of the Free World ever elected, they’re picking apart the tenets of the American Dream, chipping away the last of the artificial sheen, and putting the results on display on their own terms. Listening to their second full-length, The Seduction Of Kansas, feels like witnessing the cutting out and re-arranging of their nation's touchstones into a gleefully gruesome and debauched collage.
‘Jesus’ Son’ is as unabashed an opening to this garish show as possible; Katie Alice Greer immediately announces that she received a message from Jesus informing her of her paternal lineage to the USA’s saviour. With this deified position she does not go out and preach to the masses, but fucks, sucks and ultimately destroys them. On next track ‘The Seduction of Kansas’ it’s fast food chains that take on a seductive allure, their artificial advertisements reaching out from screens and billboards, beckoning “I’m the one who loves you/ it’s true.” Completing this scorching opening triplet is ‘Youtube Sartre’, a song that celebrates and satirizes freedom of speech that has been exploded into whole new dimensions in the modern technological age.
This kick-starting trio to The Seduction of Kansas play out as slick and savvy post-punk jams, with a danceable bent (most notably on the twisting title track). This is the mode of attack taken on the album’s sharpest tracks, the aerodynamic punk being the ideal vessel to deliver their most acerbic tales. Other highlights in this ilk include the sordid tale of salacious congressman ‘Good Time Charlie’, the anthem of fabulous suburbanite ‘Carol’ and the closing premonition of society’s ultimate destruction in ‘Texas Instruments’.
Elsewhere, Priests explore different approaches to their sound, evidently keen to be pigeonholed. While many of these aren’t as thrilling as their more straight-ahead cuts, there’s plenty to enjoy. The click-track bounce of ’68 Screen’ proves an ideal vessel for the insecurities of its central starlet who’s having trouble managing her identity in the public eye. The slow plod of ‘I’m Clean’ is not the most exciting, but does give drummer Daniele Daniele a turn on lyrics and vocals that she delivers in sardonic sashays, embodying the holier-than-thou ice queen.
From the title on down, The Seduction of Kansas finds Priests stripping the innocence from everything in their line of sight and putting the unsightly remainder on display. Rather than evidently state their displeasure in the classical idea of punk, they express their distaste through visceral imagery and corrupted characters. They may not always rock as straightforwardly as fans may have wanted, but what’s clear in The Seduction of Kansas is that Priests are out to please themselves in whatever minute ways they can in their wasteland of a country – and you can either join them for the tour or go back to sticking your head in the sand.
This article was originally published on The 405 - 9th April 2018.