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Empath - Visitor Music Album Reviews

Empath - Visitor Music Album Reviews
The second album from the Philadelphia noise-pop band comes with some great new sounds, but dials down some of the thrill and fervor that made their debut so exceptional. 

Even the most adorable noise pop has a lightning-spark fury: It has to if you want to justify the tempo. Maybe that insistence is what inspires the instant devotion to bands like No Age, the Go! Team, Sleigh Bells, bands that burn hot-white if only for a short amount of time. With Empath’s 2019 debut, Active Listening: Night on Earth, the Philadelphia-based quartet set off a new firework of lo-fi sweetness, one that kept close to its punk roots. Active Listening bolstered its opaque mixing and nocturnal ambiance with an impossibly propulsive sound. The band’s second album, Visitor, still embodies Empath’s unique qualities—cute but not childlike, dreamy but not drowsy, candied but not overindulgent—but drifts into a more sedate, syncopated direction, and sheds some of the energy that made the debut so exceptional.

Visitor holds fast to Empath’s off-beat idiosyncrasy. Samples range from Minecraft sounds to Jamiroquai presets; the music video for lead single “Diamond Eyelids” features frontwoman Catherine Elicson graphically birthing puppets of her own bandmates. But the record is centered by the confusing decision to make their sound slower, clearer, and less punk, as if they’ve identified the most crucial foundations of noise pop and set out to specifically undermine them. The journey from wall-of-sound 2016 EP Crystal Reality to today feels like a weighted swan dive into rote clarity. Tracks like “Genius of Evil” merely go through the motions of energized indie pop, and both “Elvis Comeback Special” and “80s” meander sideways with little inspiration. There’s still an unguarded thrill there, but it’s like someone’s switched out a microscope lens that renders Empath more visible: we’re brought into greater clarity, but a crucially clouded enigma is gone.

At the same time, that decision renders Elicson more audible. Her plaintive near-slurring is more immediately intelligible, which works to the band’s benefit. She lilts the entirety of “Genius of Evil” in one accusatory run-on sentence; the conviction in “Paradise” tumbles out of her mouth with the same youthful exigency as the monologue in Drop Nineteens’ “Kick the Tragedy.” Notably, “Passing Stranger” reads like a sequel to 2019’s “Hanging Out of Cars,” as if the latter’s protagonist has grown in real time, and looks back with unclouded eyes. Where the intertwining of death and desire was declared just “another weekend,” the reality of that finality now leads to this scene: “You cried/Until your knees were weak/You would never tell and no one could ever see.”

While in the past Empath songs seemed to exist in the moment, tracking Elicson’s quick-tempered thought processes and emergent desires, she now looks back on external, location-specific memories—low-hanging clouds in New Mexico, escaping on buses in Chicago, the warmth of weeks spent in a bedroom. These unpeopled places evoke the empty, liminal space memorialized by the album’s cover, and the suggestive absence of its titular visitor. In some form, Empath retains that romanticism: quick-tempered singles “Born 100 Times” and “Diamond Eyelids” still feel exhilarating and breathtaking. But for an album where most tracks don’t extend past three minutes, and from a band with such a breakneck spirit, Visitor feels a little too languid.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Empath - Visitor Music Album Reviews Empath - Visitor Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, February 21, 2022 Rating: 5

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