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The States
The Path Of Least Resistance
Genious Collective Records

Sophomore albums are very tricky. They can either be very easy to make or immensely difficult. For the synth-rock trio The States it has been a combination of both. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Snyder addresses in a press release, "It can take us a month or more to finish a song," and yet, the band's second full length disc The Path Of Least Resistance is an amiable medley of resonating synth-textured guitar vibrations and rhythmic soft punk grooves.

Their songs have a nu-wave correlation to their New York City brethren The Bravery with fissures of dramatic guitar inflections and ebullient tones. The States also have a penchant for episodes of euphoric escapes and shimmering chordals akin to Coldplay and the Cinematics. The band's affection for nu-wave esthetics has links to bands like She Wants Revenge and The Rapture, which audiences first connected with The States on their 2006 self-released debut full length album Multiply Not Divide. They are a band who knows their strengths and plays them up proudly.

Produced, mixed and engineered by Evan Moore, The Path Of Least Resistance gleans symphonic guitar riffs and light punk grooves culled by drummer Joe Stroll and bassist Previn Warren, who also performs the piano and synth passages on the recording. The opening track "Charm Offensive" blossoms with an opulent piano intro moving into coruscating guitar flourishes chinked by soft punk rhythmic movements reminiscent of Circa Survive. The sizzling arpeggios and nimble melodic bends on "New Land" are solidified by radiant piano sequences, while "Checkout" is endowed with arousing vocal rises and curls that resemble Monsters Are Waiting. The synth-rock frequencies on mid-tempo numbers like "The Architect" and "All The Salt In The Sea" have velvety chord sonics and shimmering upshots emulating the emollient textures of Coldplay. The soft synth-rock melody "Darkest Hour" has dreamy melodic guitar slides and drum kicks likened to The Dears and Kill Hannah which take on a dance-punk groove on the uptempo track "CCTV (I'm A Star)."

Snyder's vocals clench and lengthen with control and flexibility reciprocating the tempo shifts on "Black Jack," a song which won them Session I in the Rock category of the 2006 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (www.jlsc.com). The chord shifts quicken and loosen the tempo as Snyder sings, "Settle down, you know your father was a friend to me/ Never doubt I was invited by the family to swing a little from the fortune tree/ Selling out, I must admit it's been good to me…If you were dealt the hand that I got, you'd have cashed out before you got caught/ I'm no different from the rest of this town." The lyrical themes focus on human deception, sometimes sounding unapologetic like in "Black Jack" and sometimes filled with contrition like with "Checkout." In the case of "Black Jack" and "The Architect," the lyrics shed light on political intrigue. The melodic passages soften the blow of human conflicts with pleasing vibes and lush swirling tones, something like Caravaggio's paintings portraying disturbing scenes of deviant behavior with infallible beauty.

The States second album The Path Of Least Resistance has a profusion of synth-rock escapes at the forefront. The shimmering guitar passages and soft punk rhythms are fused melodically and amenably. The band plays what they know best and their second album is wrapped up so beautifully that they make it seem totally effortless.

-Susan Frances

1. Charm Offensive
2. New Land
3. Checkout
4. The Architect
5. Darkest Hour
6. All The Salt In The Sea
7. Black Jack
8. CCTV (I'm A Star)
9. 8x10
10. Be Good Tonight
11. God's Numbers

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