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***It’s not uncommon for musicians to grow and evolve between releases—but even by those standards, THE DISTRICTS’ Popular Manipulations is stunning. The Pennsylvania-borne band’s third full-length represents an exponential leap in sound and cohesion, an impressive and impassioned burn with a wide scope that threatens to swallow everything else surrounding it. Perhaps it’s a cliché to say so, but while listening, you might find yourself wondering why people don’t make indie rock like this anymore. The distinctly intense sound of Popular Manipulations—charging guitars, thunderous drumming, and ROB GROTE's searing vocals—was brought on by a few cited influences, from shoegaze’s aggressive swirl to the Velvet Underground’s impeccable drone-rock sound. But don’t mistake easy comparisons for a lack of originality: on Popular Manipulations, the District are in a lane entirely their own, exploring lyrical themes of isolation and abandonment in a way that ups the music’s already highly charged emotional quotient.