Empath: Active Listening: Night on Earth (Fat Possum) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 24th, 2020  


Active Listening: Night on Earth

Fat Possum

Nov 04, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

West Philly weirdos Empath's first full-length sets out of its stall early on—on addictive opener "Soft Shape," a blend of gentle psych, pastoral orchestration and tribal percussion lift Catherine Elicson's fragile but complex melodies and plaintive vocal style—and the fun just rolls on from there.

There's the stoned fuzz of frantic "Pure Intent," the clamor and clatter rendering the sweet tune almost unrecognizable; then there's the obvious indie hit "Hanging Out of Cars," which recalls '90s fuzz rock and capitalizes on a sweet organ hook to deliver an explosive burst of strident empowerment.

Drummer Garret Koloski stands out as MVP here carrying everything to a higher level with his insistent, intense playing in contrast to the sometimes somber, searching synth sounds. The sojourns into electronica soundscapes are a delight and mark them apart from many of their contemporaries, while "Roses That Cry" navigates beautifully illuminated Dinosaur Jr. territory with a chorus melody lifted from the best of J Mascis' playbooks.

"Rowing" throws itself down the stairs brutally and beautifully—a swirling grab bag of screams and chiming guitar strangeness yet diversions like "IV" feel a little like filler, though these synth-strewn soundscapes are a genuine pleasure to experience.

"Decor" offers up swirling shoegaze, throwaway fun with the delightfully titled "Rodeo Fever" following up to close things out.

It's a messy, lovely record that should brighten the winter days to come. (www.empathempath.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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