What is at stake in the seduction of Kansas? Like a gavel or hammer, the question rattles across the second LP from Washington, D.C. rock iconoclasts Priests: The Seduction of Kansas, out April 5th via their own Sister Polygon Records. They announce their new album today alongside a massive world tour and a video for the title track.
Entering their eighth year as a band, Priests—drummer Daniele Daniele, vocalist Katie Alice Greer, and guitarist G.L. Jaguar—remain an inspired anomaly in modern music. A band on its own label—jolting the greater music world with early releases by Downtown Boys, Snail Mail, Sneaks, and Gauche—they are living proof that it is still possible to work on one’s own terms, to collectively cultivate one’s own world.
The first single, "The Seduction of Kansas," is Priests’ purest pop song to date. It is dark and glittering—though there is still something fantastically off about it, decadent and uneasy at once. As journalist Thomas Frank explored in 2004’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, the ideological sway of Kansas has often predicted the direction in which the U.S. will move—whether leaning socialist in the 1800s or going staunchly conservative in the 1980s. Illustrating Kansas’ potent place in our national imagination—as well as “a chorus of whoever is trying to persuade the social consciousness of Kansas”—Greer sings brilliantly of a “bloodthirsty cherub choir” in a cornfield, of “a drawn out charismatic parody of what a country through it used to be,” beckoning that “I’m the one who loves you.” The song does what Priests do best: They make us think, stir us with complexity. As for "seduction," the word has long evoked pleasure, sex—but it can become propaganda, a tactic of manipulation, a ploy in the politics of persuasion. “There’s something sinister about the idea of seducing a whole state,” says drummer Daniele Daniele. “You’re clearly up to something. Why would you do it?” The title—like Priests—is a moving target, probing questions about the realities and mythologies of America in 2019 without giving in to easy answers.