Hope of the States: The Lost Riots

Zeth Lundy

The band is the next hurrah from England, and heir to its operatic art-rock throne... It's all so serious, so overwhelming, this rock music lifting the weight of the world itself on its shoulders.

Hope of the States

The Lost Riots

Label: Epic
US Release Date: 2004-10-05
UK Release Date: 2004-06-07

It all starts so innocently. A little heavy-handed, yes, but innocent nonetheless. Some minor-chord guitar plucks, destitute and plaintive, a resolute drum pattern, some strings waking from hibernation. And then the floodgates open. The special effects team is brought in and the band lets loose in full Jerry Bruckheimer bombast. It's like a swarm of killer bees, all portrayed by Hollywood's A-list, of course. Guitars are set aflame, the strings grow paranoid and overbearing; so concludes an overture that flexes its oppressive muscles in order to convince us of its utmost importance.

The song is "The Black Amnesias", the lead-off instrumental to The Lost Riots. The band is Hope of the States, the next hurrah from England, and heir to its operatic art-rock throne. These first five minutes set a recurring (and eventually, irritating) motif in motion: the song that tensely builds like magma climbing up a volcano's walls, exploding in a climax of exorbitant braggadocio. The Lost Riots was produced by Ken Thomas, best known for sculpting the chasmal panoramas of Sigur Ros. There's a similar air of self-importance and monumental dramatics in The Lost Riots' most trying moments. It's all so serious, so overwhelming, this rock music lifting the weight of the world itself on its shoulders.

Songs like "Black Dollar Bills" and "Goodhorsehymn" follow in the furious steps of "The Black Amnesias", launching orgasms of frustration. Lungs expand, cymbals engorge; lungs contract, strings punish like thunderbolts. Occasionally, some songs dial back the histrionics, much to their benefit. "Don't Go to Pieces" and "George Washington" both exercise restraint, showcasing the band's strong ability to render a sincere emotional impact without the sheen of bells and whistles. One can only wonder how much stronger The Lost Riots would have been if the strings had been used sympathetically as they are in these waning minutes.

Throughout the album, Hope of the States operates at a breaking point, disillusioned with the world's penchant for destruction and hypocrisy. On paper, The Lost Riots appears to be a politically charged manifesto of sorts, its aim focused on the United States (primarily inferred from song titles such as "The Red The White The Black The Blue", "George Washington", and "1776"). But Hope of the States doesn't opt to be so distinct in the songs themselves. Precautions are issued ("You beat us black and blue / We're coming back to fight you"), defiance is flaunted ("You can't buy us with your dollar bills"), futility is acknowledged ("We all hope for anything when there's nothing at all"), and then validated ("I used to think I had something to say / But my dumb ideologies gave me away"). The band's hearts and minds are in the right place, but the sheer impudence of the music negates the fight they so nobly wage. In the end, it's like a giant protest march that does more harm than good, blocking the major arteries of a city while promoting its cause.

The most glaring problem with The Lost Riots is that it's just no fun. Hope of the States is a brooding, incorrigible pooper that crashes the world's party. Like the actor who wins the Oscar for crying, The Lost Riots goes right to the emotional jugular, favoring repetitious browbeating over more nuanced subtleties. The argument could be made that Hope of the States is only trying to make some redemptive noise in order to rise above the din of the world's sorrows. Point taken. But seriously, let's lighten up and cut out the maudlin pretense. Some of us will be more apt to prick up our ears when they're not being assaulted by saccharine deluges of hope and fear.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.