With elements of math-rock arrangements and No Wave nihilism prevalent throughout their fourth album, Instant Everything, Constant Nothing, Untied States are helping to demonstrate the versatility of Atlanta’s music scene. They’re also prompting the question “Why has it taken me four albums before I’ve heard of this band?”
While there’s nothing within Instant Everything that suggests that they’re even remotely exploring the realms of accessibility, Untied States possess enough sweetness in their off-kilter approach to gain more listeners than your typical atonal guitar tweakers.
Vocals reach out of layers of reverb—sometimes matched with harmonies—beside intertwined clean guitars. When the distortion pedal is eventually hit, it’s used for dramatic effect instead of testosterone surges. The band occasionally incorporates piano and strange Pere Ubu synthesizers into the mix, setting them apart from the traditional progressive minded guitar sect currently roaming the clubs of Atlanta.
Titling their songs from the Don Caballero school of song titles (“Bye Bye Bipolar,” “Wrestling With Entropy in the Rehabbed Factory”,” etc.), Instant Everything frequently takes itself a bit too seriously during moments (“I am just a servant / On a midget scheme” – “Grey Tangerines”) and if you crane your neck enough, you’ll give yourself a headache trying to make sense of things that are better left unstudied.
The real appeal is, again, in listening to how Untied States have spent so much time patching musical complexities together only to perform them with such manic fervor that you expect them to fall apart. And just at the moment chaos ensues, they pull it together.
It’s a smart effort, one that hints at a lot of practicing even when listeners may not get all of the band’s hard work on first listen. Thankfully, there’s enough intrigue in Untied States’ guitar curio to want to keep coming back.
In order to get to that intrigue, however, don’t be like me and wait for another Untied States album to pass you by.