What Lasts does not smack you in the face with its greatness. It's a subtle, beautiful piece of work requiring multiple listens to truly grasp everything going on both musically and lyrically. On the surface it's simply a collection of mostly mellow rock tunes punctuated with a couple Stonesy rockers with some pedal steel sneaking in here and there. In truth, it's much more.
The opener, "Nobody Can Tell," details a near-death experience atop a bed of acoustic guitars, with some lovely melodic electric guitar dancing around the vocals. The lyrics are like a torrent, rarely pausing, dragging the listener along. Death is a central theme throughout the album with songs like "Dug Him in the Dirt," "Life&Death She & I," "One You Believe," and the title song, among others. What could easily be a meandering, morose collection of songs becomes a triumphant affirmation of life in the hands of These United States.
While the band prove they can still kick ass with a couple well placed up-tempo tunes, such as "The Great Rivers" and the closing "Water and Wheat," the standout tracks are the slower numbers, particularly "Just This," with its Wilco-esque, noise-infused coda.
The catchiest tune on the album is easily "Life&Death She&I" which also happens to have some of the strongest lyrics. The alliteration in lines like "I said ‘I'm just momma's boy/aching for a little affection' / She said ‘I'm just a daddy's girl dying for a little direction / How's that for traction?'" is just plain old good song craft.
But I could sit and single out just about every track for being amazing in one way or another; there's not a duff track in the bunch. Like all albums of worth, the charms of What Lasts reveal themselves over time, and the impatient listener who doesn't realize this is truly missing out.
Find out more at theseunitedstates.net.