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Credit: Pooneh Ghana

Pennsylvania rockers the Districts return next month with their third full-length, Popular Manipulations — and EW is excited to premiere one of the album’s standout tracks, the propulsive song “Violet.”

According to frontman Rob Grote, the cut is an ironic look at the themes of possessiveness that have pervaded pop music for decades. “It has a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek aspect to it,” he tells EW. “It’s an extremely possessive-sounding song, but kind of came more from us talking personally about the tendency in popular music to have some very possessive language when it comes to the topic of love. We wrote this song to be a take on that.”

Grote wrote the framework of the song’s bracing instrumental in his room on a synthesizer he had routed through a delay pedal, before bringing the track to the full band to flesh it out. “We wanted it to be this ghostly sounding recording,” he says. “The eerie keyboard and the melodies of the acoustic guitars seemed like the right fit for that. We liked the idea of the song lurching back and forth.”

“Violet” fits with the band’s general goal for Manipulations, which Grote describes as wanting to “broaden the sonic palette.” To that end, the Districts turned to all sorts of other genres — Brazilian, African, ambient, punk — for inspiration. “We all talked about purposefully disorienting ourselves musically so we weren’t just listening to what we listened to since we grew up,” Grote explains.

Of course, the band doesn’t need to change too much: Following the release of their breakout 2015 album A Flourish and a Spoil, they shared a bill with the Rolling Stones. “It was definitely an honor,” Grote recalls. “We’re definitely not used to playing places of that size!”

Listen to “Violet” above and catch all of Popular Manipulations when it arrives on Aug. 11. See the band’s upcoming U.S. tour dates below.

Aug. 4 – Chicago, IL – The Vic
Aug. 5 – Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
Aug. 6 – Montreal, QC – Osheaga
Aug. 7 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
Aug. 8 – Hamden, CT – The Ballroom at The Outer Space
Aug. 9 – Columbus, OH – Express Live
Aug. 11 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Aug. 12 – North Adams, MA – Mass MoCA
Aug. 16 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
Aug. 18 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
Aug. 19 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls