A blast of gunfire gives way to a somber drum beat in the first few seconds of The Fever Breakers’ “We Are America,” but what comes next couldn’t be much more removed from the sounds of war. A bright band of electric guitar emerges from the rubble of the drums, guiding us forward into a piano ballad that wraps its arms around us as if to say “welcome home” as the melody comes into focus. Out of the glimmer of instrumental fireworks comes a vocal that is as captivating as an American bald eagle flying high in the sky, but it isn’t looking to steal the spotlight away from the music. As we lumber into the chorus, the volume increases, the drums get a little more excited and the strings grow to the size of the Rocky Mountains.
In terms of production quality, “We Are America” goes above and beyond what most of us expect out of a pop single, but its packaging isn’t overwhelming. The vocals and instruments are very well polished and have a nice, organic resonance to them that is more in line with vintage vinyl pop than it is today’s digitalized, overdubbed fodder. The drums in particular are evenly distributed against the string parts and the climax of the lyrics, and while they demonstrate a supple nimbleness that makes the tempo a little more calculating than the rest of the song is, they never become so generous or indulgent with the beat that they turn into a distraction from the track’s story.
The lyrics shower us with images of immigrants walking across the border and sailing across the sea, leaving their past behind to acquire a new homeland, becoming as engrained in the culture and community of this country as anything else in its storied history. The resolve in the vocals is so gripping and ardent that the percussion starts to sound like trudging footsteps and the strings like loud collective chants begging for freedom. By the time we get through the first chorus, our hearts are filled with a crusading emotion that propels us forward to see what we’ll find next, and The Fever Breakers are happy to oblige us with even more engaging harmonies.
“We Are America” finishes as epically as it starts, adding the plainly spoken voices of various individuals saying “I am America” to the tune of the muscular chorus. The bass is mixed down significantly at this point, but the effect isn’t detrimental to the song at all; it’s replaced with an enchanting guitar solo that jettisons off into the ethers and leaves an imprint as emotionally provocative as the words “and liberty and justice for all” are. As wholeheartedly American as this song is, its call for acceptance, love and compassion is universally accepted as one we must embrace if we plan to live another generation on this planet. Setting aside the brilliantly crafted lyrics that the band penned in this track, the music is just as bittersweet, elegant, and resolute as the verses are, if not more so. If there’s one thing that The Fever Breakers prove in this single, it’s that there isn’t a melody too kinetic, a harmony too aerated nor a subject too controversial to be undertook, which is more than just a good thing for their future in the music industry; it’s a great thing for modern pop.