United States of Mind
I’m bored, so fucking bored. Sunday afternoons are brutal, between the heat and the lethargy. I reach into the stack of promos, desperate for something to interrupt the static buzz in my ears. Oh, it’s the new Covenant, should be… nice. First track, ten seconds in, and I’m a mess of devotion and worship. Staccato distorted beats, glacial European distance and ennui, clean but somehow robotic vocals, crystal synths, and what must be a factory of burbling machines humming along. Someone finally got Kraftwerk’s formula right! We’re talking some major industrial espionage. I open up the CD booklet, and facing me are three immaculately groomed, suit-attired, and high cheekbone-equipped young futurists standing in formation looking up to the neon sky in praise. Somewhat familiar.
“No Man’s Land” jars me rudely out of my machine dreams. It’s more dense, bursting with house beats. Wait, I get it, the Detroit house DJs were influenced by Kraftwerk, and now Covenant is returning the favor. Nice. Nervously, I await the third track. Sadly, “Afterhours” confirms all my worst fears. “Like Tears in Rain” was a one-off lucky fluke, like those scientists who claimed to have discovered cold fusion a few years back. The remainder of United States of Mind isn’t the herald of the new man-machines at all, instead it’s warmed-over synth crap that sounds like B-sides from Depeche Mode’s Ultra sessions, but without the drug drama that made it so compelling. Check out “Humility” if you don’t believe me, Martin Gore’s on the way to the Metropolis offices with brass knuckles and a demo recording of “Sister of Night.” “Helicopter” makes a valiant attempt to recapture the earlier circuit boards and cyanide glory (you know you’re on the right path when the beats sound like whirling blades). Then they veer headlong into pseudo-anthemic territory with big choruses and rave keyboards that make me want to scratch my eyes out when I imagine hundreds of Goths waving glowsticks to the strains of “Tour de Force.” Blech. What are all these lyrics about love? There are highways to sing about…
Metropolis Records, P.O. Box 54307, Philadelphia, PA 19105; http://www.metropolis-records.com