Last Friday saw States & Capitals release the amazing debut album, titled The Feelings. Each track has something special about it, with Richie Arthur’s vocals sounding superb throughout. We first discovered States & Capitals when we wrote up about the music video release for “FEELINGS“, and we’ve been hooked ever since and we assure you, that you will be too.
States & Capitals are a band that formed in Wyckoff, New Jersey in 2015. Founded by frontman Richie Arthur (full name Richard Arthur Schaafsma), they’ve gone on to have moderate success over the years. They’ve released a total of three EPs, debut Vacant, sophomore For Your Own Good, and third EP CREATIONS&MEMORIES. They’ve released a few singles in promotion of the EPs, and they are mostly known for their 2015 cover of Parachute’s “Kiss Me Slowly”, which currently has over 2 million Spotify streams. This week saw them drop their debut studio album, solely produced by Richie Arthur, himself.
The album spawned a total of three singles, “FEELINGS“, “Wasting Away”, and “Terrified”, which we completely loved and it certainly anticipated the release of the album. Each of the singles are phenomenal and so we just had to do a track by track album review to see if the rest of the songs are just as good.
The first track to introduce us to this album, and it is a theme which is ready to set the whole tone of the LP. It starts off with a haunting, repetitive instrumental that just gets worse as the seconds pass by, or it stays the same but our anticipation makes it seem like it’s increasing. As more instruments are added the more worrying it feels but as the ending starts to draw near we, finally, lose the scary movie feels and start to hear a band. Looking back on the track, it reminds us of how a band will start to hype a crowd up, at a gig, by slowly building their sound from one instrument to more and more, until they’re all playing music at the same time. We wouldn’t necessarily call it a theme, more like an opening instrumental, but it sure does hype us up for the very first track.
The first track may have built up our anticipation, but “Wasting Away” really sets out what we can all expect from this album. It’s an incredible song all by itself, easily addicting, and one you will certainly have stuck in your head – but then again, that is what we are expecting from every track on this LP. The style of the first few songs is that 00’s pop-rock era that we fully love and which is slowly making its comeback, and States & Capitals just proves exactly how much we have been missing it in the current music industry. The song is an uplifting love track about meeting someone you weren’t quite ready for and now he’s fallen hard for this person and he just wants to spend every day with that special person, wasting away. Its lyrical content is beyond cute and relatable to a lot of people to the extent where we all are just wasting away with States & Capitals, listening to this song.
The first single from this album and the one track that instantly made us a fan of States & Capitals. This track definitely has 00’s pop-rock influence running throughout, and this is something we see in the rest of the tracks. This song’s lyrics are about falling in love for the first time and not sure what to do in a relationship and their partner decides to guide this person in how to be in love. It works brilliantly after “Wasting Away”, and Richie Arthur’s voice is pure perfection throughout. How can you not love this track?
Now, this is the official first new song on the album if you discount the intro track. “Criminal Mind” has a much slower pace than “FEELINGS” and turns the tone of the album in a slightly new direction. States & Capitals are showing off their versatility with this track, and it’s so great to hear. It’s ambient and rhythmic while Richie Arthur’s voice is strong and powerful over the backing track. It’s more of a ballad than anything else, with States & Capitals impressing with this dream-like song. Lyrically, it seems Richie Arthur is laying all his cards on the table and even the demons that he has inside and asking his partner to stay with him – we’re all a little crazy sometimes.
Well, after the surprising track “Criminal Mind” we don’t know which way this album is set to go, and so before we dive right in, States & Capitals bring their third and most recent single, “Terrified”, which was released a month ago. This one makes a bit more sense with the tilted direction from “Criminal Mind” as it’s another slower track but one we’ve heard a few times before the album release. It’s a strong song that is beyond gentle and has this slightly twisted melody in the backing track which adds to the feelings of the lyrics. We’ve been dealing with love in the first three tracks but now we have heartbreak in it’s roughest form and it is clearly shattering and Richie Arthur displays this brilliantly with his voice and the lyrics.
(I Will Not) Go
Time to delve into the unknown, are we all quite ready for the next seven tracks or so? We are sure States & Capitals are ready to blow our minds. This track, “(I Will Not) Go” starts off with a techno vibe as an instrumental before coming in with various instruments as Richie Arthur starts to sing. It’s slightly more upbeat than the previous two songs until that incredible chorus jumps right in. Filled with heartbreak his feelings have changed slightly from upset to his lingering love, he wants his partner back and he’s stating that he will never let go. It’s a strong undeniable track that builds in strength throughout.
Weird titles can sometimes bring the best songs and “digital::error” puts this into question during it’s hypnotic, soul-identifying instrumental during the entirety of this track, turning it more into an interlude. It has a very classical nature quality to it which suggest that we are moving on from falling in love and having one’s heart ripped out which are the feelings we heard in the previous six tracks. Now, we wonder, what feelings will we hear during the next five tracks? Right now, we’re feeling mellow, as if States & Capitals are giving us the time to think and reflect on what we’ve heard so far, as well as giving themselves the time to do the same. Three-quarters of the way through the song, it turns to silence before a high-pitched series of piano notes can be heard reminding us of a children’s hanging mobile. It soon progresses into something more as other instruments get added including a couple of non-sensical riffs from Richie Arthur creating this dream-like quality that has both a beautiful listening quality to it and an eerie confusion. Did the time to think and reflect work or has it just made things worse?
Imagine Me And You, I Do / takemeaway.
Another interesting title following from “digital::error”, now this has to be unusually brilliant and that’s exactly what States & Capitals do, delivering within the first few seconds. Yet, this is basically a double-track (much like those hidden tracks from the 90’s and the 00’s that we loved to hate). “Imagine Me And You, I Do”, is another slow ballad type of song giving us singer-songwriter vibes throughout. Lyrically it suggests that he has moved on and they’re in a partying mood with Richie Arthur going all out and it’s got this predrinks feel to it, and would certainly work as a song to include in the warm-up party playlist. Its chorus is addicting and one that will certainly be memorable.
“takemeaway.” follows on nicely and identifies itself away from the other song by just a few seconds of silence – which we can deal with (those hidden tracks from a few decades ago used to have minutes upon minutes of silence – it was infuriating). This one is almost another pure instrumental track which makes a statement, purely on the title alone. As the instruments slowly build throughout, it easily takes us away, it’s just a shame this doesn’t appear as a stand-alone track as it’s very different to “Imagine Me And You, I Do”. Within the last minute of the song, Richie Arthur’s voice jumps in out of nowhere, singing a catchy hook that is distorted as if he drank too much at this party which he sings about in the first half of the full track, and yet, we can’t help but feel this is more of an unfinished song.
Some rich notes can be heard throughout the opening of this number and it sure excites us for the rest of the song. Soon enough more instruments are added and a beautiful rhythm is brought up that you can’t help but love. Just under a minute in, of this bang-on three-minute track, Richie Arthur’s voice floods in, matching the backing track which we had already fallen for. Finger clicks can be heard whilst the backing track continues to evolve into something even more beautiful. Again, the lyrics feel incomplete, with Richie Arthur singing statements and questions about insanity. It just feels like it’s missing something, or maybe there’s just a bit too much and yet it’s one of those songs we will certainly remember.
The Mess That I Made
This track reminds us of “FEELINGS” and “Terrified” from earlier on in the album, and it’s great to hear States & Capitals return to the sort of sound we loved hearing at the beginning of this album. If the title isn’t clear enough, the lyrics are, as States & Capitals start to own up to their wrongdoings and realising that the situation they are in, as well as the way they are feeling, are all down to them. It’s brutal honesty with oneself and it’s amazing to hear in a song. It’s brilliant in the purest of senses.
Starting off with a guitar riff, “48” has this country-rock-pop vibe which suits States & Capitals effortlessly. It’s a laid-back, chilling track whilst the lyrics hit hard about realising that being with someone isn’t always healthy and neither is love and heartbreak sometimes. It’s clear that this is one complex relationship with many different feelings flying around, and its no wonder that the album is titled The Feelings but all the while with the main two being love and heartbreak. “48” plays on the number and the relationship whilst giving an epic last few lines twisting up what Richie Arthur means by “48”. The song is unofficially the final track on the album, as the following song is a bonus track – remember them alongside those “hidden tracks” from the 00’s, clearly there’s a lot of inspiration going on here.
Criminal Mind (Acoustic) [Bonus Track]
Who doesn’t like a bonus track? Who doesn’t like an acoustic version of a good song? Well here’s a two-in-one, but is it really possible to strip back “Criminal Mind” even more so than the original? Well, States & Capitals do just that, allowing Richie Arthur’s brilliant vocals to shine throughout. We may even prefer this over the original, as he gives it his all and impresses to no end.
Overall, this album has its ups and downs, as most albums surely do. We’re not so keen on the classical instrumental tracks that break up the whole album, and some songs feel not-quite complete. Regardless of these things, States & Capitals still manage to impress with their debut album, giving us plenty of addicting songs and unstoppable choruses which we will be singing along to in our heads days after listening. It’s an incredible piece of work and one that deserves to be heard.
The Feelings LP is available to download and stream right now. We hope that more new music from this project gets released in the future as we are excited to see where it will go.