04 August 2011

Empire! Empire (I Was a Lonely Estate) - home after three months away (2011, Stiff Slack)

I've been reluctant to write about Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) so far, because I cherish as icons some of their very very close references & influences : Mineral and American Football. even more, I admit their debut 7inch was, is and will stay a secret pleasure as it brings back each time a flood of (good) memories, but yes they were not bringing something new to the style ans the tag "resurgence band" of the emo scene is difficult to bear.

So, with my focus on letting my ears drifting in potentially new directions, I never seriously tried to listen to their subsequent discography. But, and that's my squirrel side, I kept a precise but discreet attention on them, maybe waiting for a harsh and strong winter and keeping them as a hidden supply for hypothetical shortage times.

Everything went on and could have stayed like that forever, until a few days ago. I received an email from Keith Latinen, leader & main composer of the band, proposing promo reviews of new records on his own label Count Your Lucky Stars. As a side-note, he added a link towards the last release of his band, en EP, with these words : "Since the label is from Japan, I thought I would help them out a little with PR!".

Well I was done and forced to listen finally with the necessary attention to this new release, somewhat scared of not liking it and then unsure about how to formulate arguments and opinions, reasons of denial.

So I listened sceptically to the first track, to the second track, to the third track, with not obvious decisions and then came the fourth track, which totally reversed my opinion. But not directly, only after a few spins of the whole ep, it was like, "wait, what does he says, why does it sound like that, so strange", arising such intimate and deep emotions.

"I swim like a minnow" is a quiet and tense song, obviously related to a slowcore approach, following directions previously explored by Mineral or Seam, but with a personal, "new", touch and in fact generating different feelings, a strong wave of melancholic nostalgia, sensations of emptiness and disappointment, the slow agony of summer into autumn, with beautiful humble lyrics relating events and how something unexpected emerged through events.

It's a fascinating song, emphasizing somehow how a few drops of bitterness finally make us keep the feet on the ground.

Once been through this ending song, the rest of the EP takes another color. Starting with "The Loneliness Inside Me Is a Place", a self- reflexive song perfumed as those of Owen, with almost hidden lyrics half-sung and central, "but the truth is much more complicated than that", unnoticed at first but which finally are the inundating apex with their hidden sense.  

The second track, "Water", is pleasant, soothing, reassuring, narrative and sweet like a lullaby but more distracting than arresting.

Luckily, "Everything Rests on Your Small Shoulders" is an immediate antidote, lightheaded and pounded, stormy and lazy. "The irony was not lost on me" sings Keith Latinen and yes, if he's able to mix heart on sleeve with self-reflexive lucidity and irony, one can only recognizes him as credible.

With three songs on four which won't leave you totally intact and impact durably your mood, making you more or less addicted, "Home After Three Months Away" is obviously a recommended record, which makes me want to look backwards and forward.


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