US English

An article by David Brooks on March 23, 2011


Typically we gravitate to the things we know, the comfort of what we’ve always experienced. But sometimes a work of art is able to draw us out of that pattern, inspiring us as something truly unique.

Artists like Bjork and bands like Radiohead, are perfect examples of inspiration that press the limits of what we’re used to. Some people understand it right away, others fifteen years late. I know that from experience, only appreciating “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Karma Police” in my mid twenties. In one paradigm, art is a balance of inspiration and finding the right boundaries to push against.

US English is a St. Louis based duo, and you’ll do well to remember them. They’re the type of musicians that whether or not you always understand what they’re doing, will inspire you for years to come. If you let them.

While a lot of bands are guilty of abusing the tried and true lyrical patterns that we know so well, US English takes a different route. Bordering on poetry, their message often carries the same weight as that of Thom Yorke, warning of a society unchecked or people tied to their own demise.

But it’s not as if they’re an overly dark band, and they’re certainly not a Radiohead copy, not in the remotest sense. Their style borrows from some of the understated trends of modern electronic and well-written pop music. But while it would be easy to assume from that statement there is some connection to the expected, that’s also not the case. Within their songs you’re just as likely to hear an operatic female voice as a glitching synthesizer.

Buy What FutureWhat Frontier EP on iTunesBuy Used FutureUsed Future EP on iTunes

US English

In fact, defining their sound is difficult, and it changes regularly, and not always subtly. But that’s impressive, more than it is a trick that might be employed by other bands to avoid categorization. It’s brilliant, and it works for them.

But perfect their music is not. If it were, it would likely be less interesting. Music that does cover topics like social disconnection shouldn’t leave us feeling entirely happy. And they’re not too dark, of course. The song News! was an instant favorite of mine. It’s a gorgeous song that carries a message of hope. And while most bands can’t handle complicated mixes of hope and warning, US English tackles it almost effortlessly.

When you boil it down, the whole premise behind US English seems to be expression in the most fitting way. US English is a band you just have to try for yourself. It’s also possible that you’ll have to listen to more than one of their songs before the bigger picture comes together for you. But, I think, that’s something true artists are able to create. And if you can understand the whole thing in one listen, how much have you really gained from listening?

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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