What It Takes To Move Forward
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
So let’s be original here: [Insert obligatory joke/complaint about long band name and song titles].
[Insert reference to real “emo”]
Now that’s done, let’s begin.
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) cannot be described as “easy-listening”. This is an album that requires 100% attention (no more than that exists - take note football managers). It’s also an album that I couldn’t listen to in one sitting to start with. This could say more about me than anything else, but I found myself having to digest it in chunks. Some of the songs on this album have more originality and different ideas within them than entire albums so you need time to work this over in your head.
It’s unlikely that How To Make Love Stay will be ousted from the position of “Opening track that best sums up the entire album” in the non-existent awards I regularly dole out in my head. If you find yourself drawn in by this track then you are in for a treat, let it take you down the rabbit hole into a musical world that is rarely created, and rarely done so as well. What follows is a long, challenging and rewarding album that deserves careful listening and many, many repeats. I was told by a friend that any album needs to be listened to six times before you can form a concrete opinion on it. I knew from first listen that I liked this album, but equally I wasn’t rushing to listen to it again, and part of me didn’t know why I liked it. Objectively, Keith Latinen’s slurred, lispy vocals are weak and seem grating, the pacing of the tracks is all over the shop and the songs are often drawn out and slow burning. But subjectively, I was hooked on Latinen’s lazy delivery, similar as it is to Davey von Bohlen’s vocal style in the Promise Ring. I’ve also eventually realised after two decades of life, that songs don’t need to be 3 minute pop-wonders, and that listening and being forced to pay attention makes the listening experience all the richer.
You want to learn that lesson as well? Well listen to this album.
However, I can see this album being lauded by a few and dismissed by as many. It smacks of a cult classic, an album that will be unappreciated in its own time. This would be a shame, because it needs to be heard.
Tracks like Keep What You Have Built Up Here have the intensity of a Moneen but give off the impression that they were put through a 1990s filter. I guess nostalgia is a funny thing, luckily I don’t fall prey to it because I have only got into bands like Mineral and American Football in the last couple of years and while these comparisons are somewhat accurate, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) have an unmistakably ‘modern’ sound to them. It would be unfair to call them a throwback, as to me this sounds like musical progress. Perhaps neo-emo might be appropriate, but then I hate genres, and I probably sound like a cock, so we can dismiss that.
So to sum up, this is a good album, expect to feel slightly ambivalent towards it to start with, but put the effort in and it will reward you more than sufficiently.
And don’t call it neo-emo. That’s retarded.