Philadelphia’s Empath class their music as “a kaleidoscopic mix of psych & punk-rock” and, with their follow up to 2019’s ‘Active Listening: Night on Earth’ called ‘Visitor’ soon to be released, I am not about to argue with that.
The four-piece have a wicked sense of humour that is never far away but they do deep too; with lines like “history comes back to you in shards that I reach out to touch” buried in the garage fuzz of early Blondie like pop-rock of ‘Diamond Eyelids’.
A similar feel, but with added Bowie influences comes across on ‘Elvis Comeback Special’. The simply named ‘V’ takes a very different approach as the seemingly directionless instrumental eventually makes a kind of sense. If Blondie covered The Ramones, it would probably sound a bit like ‘Born 100 Times’ a purposely chaotic song that has great drumming rattling away, seemingly at odds but fitting in.
‘Passing Stranger’ begins like a sci-fi soundtrack before evolving into a Velvet Underground feel and is instantly accessible. ‘80s’ may sound like a seaside cacophony, but after a couple of listens, especially when the chorus melody comes in, it makes an 80s pop-rock tinged sense.
This is the sort of album that would be too easily dismissed on just one listen, a few run-throughs and it has a curious fascination, undoubted catchiness and some clever compositional skills. So, if you do give it a listen, listen again and you will discover hidden talents, a lot of fun and some damn good pop songs.
Visitor is out on 11th February.