Priests – The Seduction of Kansas

On The Seduction of Kansas, Washington DC's Priests broaden their stylistic horizons, shake off the tag of political punks, and deliver a thrilling indictment of modern day America anyway

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 04 Apr 2019
  • Priests – The Seduction of Kansas
Album title: The Seduction of Kansas
Artist: Priests
Label: Sister Polygon
Release date: 5 Apr

How do you feel about the country you’re from when all it does is give you tools with which to hate it? This is one of the questions Washington DC’s Priests are processing on their second full-length, The Seduction of Kansas.

In an interview with Pitchfork, the now trio (former bassist Taylor Mulitz has permanently left to focus on Flasher, who released their underrated Constant Image last year) explained that both time away, and the chance to see more of the US, due to extensive touring only brought them closer to their home, even as the atmosphere there, especially politically and socially, has turned unrelentingly sour. Their response is an album that acts as a kind of scrawled and madcap love letter to America, in all of its facets and flaws, currently and historically. 

This takes the form of songs as vignettes that see vocalist Katie Alice Greer embody a string of vile, unreliable and repugnant narrators that could only be birthed in the “land of the free”, from a fictitious destructive dude with a messiah complex (Jesus’ Son), to real people with a taste for the extravagant at any cost (Good Time Charlie). Greer is having heaps of fun.

The choice to speak often as a morally ambiguous character is also essential to Priests’ desire to shake off the tag of political punks. Their previous record Nothing Feels Natural may have unfairly burdened them with this rote descriptor, and all due to the temporal happenstance of its release soon after Trump’s election as president (although, it would be wrong to suggest that, even here, Priests don’t wear their political colours on their sleeves – there is after all an interlude called I Dream This Dream In Which My Body Is My Own).

But on The Seduction of Kansas they thrillingly disrobe of any of the negative connotations that might, usually wrongly, come along with that phrase “political punks”; namely extreme directness and a sense of lacking musicality, as the band explores new identities both narratively and stylistically. Along with the help of producer John Congleton, G.L. Jaguar’s guitars veer from searing like an air raid siren (YouTube Sartre) to noirishly attractive. Daniele Daniele’s drumming is rollicking and notably exact. Not that it ever wasn’t – Priests have just been given new clarity.

Listen to: YouTube Sartre, Not Perceived, Texas Instruments

Scroll on to read our interview with Priests from our April 2019 issue...