Review: Empire State Human – The Art

The art of well-excecuted synth-pop is rarely found and most appreciated when it is. We were hard on Ireland’s Empire State Human’s last release, really hard in fact. It just didn’t work for us and we said so. We’re pleased to report their latest is a marked step up and they are deserving of recognition for their adherence to the traditional rules of synth pop and for years of dedication to that lost art. The solid instrumental, “The Secret Life of Artists” is a perfect example of what they do best – hook-driven, straight-ahead synth-pop that trades heavily on styles and structures we know so well from decades gone by; “Stars Shine Bright” has a vague Heaven 17 feel to it that makes it one of the album’s stronger tracks; “Search for Love” is pure, fun disco; “My Passion” is a strong dance plodder that’s better on its own than anything we heard on the entire last album, Audio Gothic.It’s not all great, sometimes there’s a samey-sameness to the vocals that make it hard to distinguish the songs, and “Killer in Me” is a fascinating two-headed beast that combines a first half that is an overwrought string-driven ballad with the weakest lyrics on the album, that then, at the 1.35 mark becomes a great pop song, the back-end being, ironically, the strongest song on the album.

The songwriting is light years improved from Audio Gothic and the band just seem to be having more fun and it really rubs off on the listener. It’s all headed in the right direction and it’s really nice to have them back.

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