Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this Independent Spotlight review, I’ll be taking a look at the band Empire Affair and their third EP which dropped back in September, titled ‘Pangs.’ The junior release from the band follows ‘Red Light’ and ‘Sparks in the Dark,’ the latter having been released in 2012. Considering the longer amount of time between the second and third outings, the band promises ‘Pangs’ to draw a creative line through the previous two records showing their progression as a band.
Empire Affair uniquely describes their genre allegiance in comparison to other independent acts. While they still classify themselves as indie rock and post punk, they also align themselves with dark disco, which is a bit more obscure genre. The band cites acts like The Killers, The Strokes, and Joy Division as inspiration. Let’s check out ‘Pangs.’
‘Press Reset,’ the first track off of the new EP, introduces Empire Affair in an atmospheric fashion. Mystifying synthesizers, droning guitar riffs, and increasingly dramatic drums create an intriguing soundscape. Right off of the bat, Empire Affair’s production is of the highest quality. That’s certainly an accolade for an independent act, because the scene is too often packed with poor self-productions and bad mixes. The mix and master are professional here, and ‘Press Reset’ echoes that strongly. It’s a short, haunting track, something that sounds like it’s off of a Vaccines record.
‘Don’t Let Me Down’ gets down in the dirt as a more gnarly rock and roll track, and it’s the first real introduction to Neil Tallent’s vocals. Empire Affair’s brand of rock and roll is similar to their cited influences; it’s family friendly, but still a bit daring and flashy - sort of like a mix of old Cheap Trick and new Coldplay with a musical direction eerily-like The Wombats.
‘DNA Code’ has an incredibly strong synthesized lead and it’s likely the most memorable track on the record. It’s catchy as hell and it’s the kind of song that’s best at home blasting absurdly loud from your car speakers plummeting down an empty street in the dead of a summer evening. ‘Forest Beyond the Trees’ feels a bit stereotypical lyrically, though it has a killer guitar lead. ‘End of Disco’ opens with a dark organ piece and reverberated drums. It’s the perfect exit to a strong album, a piece that resonates fiercely as a reminder of the musical prowess of the band.
‘Pangs’ is a really strong record; it’s well produced, well executed, and musically sound on all ends. The musicianship is much stronger than the lyrics, which could probably infuse a bit more depth and be better off. With that said, their sources of inspiration have always fallen into a similar sphere as well, no one has ever accused Chris Martin of being overly insightful. It’s a great record, though, and certainly worth the time it takes to surf through the five tracks.
Visit Empire Affair at - http://empireaffair.co.uk