Especially with Snowing having just broken up, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) are really one of the only bands out there right now that are playing this 90s-style, Sunny Day Real Estate-inspired emo. Their first, and so far only full-length record, 2009’s What It Takes to Move Forward continues to be a genre high-point, harkening back to a regrettably dead genre, as well as being an incredible release in its own right. The obnoxiously titled On Time Spent Waiting, or Placing the Weight of the World on the Shoulders of Those You Love the Most is the latest in a slew of 7”s since that full-length, and it continues the band’s streak of solid songwriting, while introducing just enough new elements to keep things fresh.
In truth, listeners of Empire! Empire!’s previous material will feel right at home here – you’re getting the same gloriously pretty and emotionally charged rock music as before, complete with the requisite high-pitched vocals and sparkly harmonized guitars that are typical of Keith and Cathy Latinen, the husband-and-wife team who are the focal points of the band.
There’s really only one new dimension that they’ve added to their sound, and it’s something I’d like to hear more of. “When You Are Living On Borrowed Time” adds in a single trumpet player at strategic points, and it works wonders. The tune would have been great without it – it’s just as beautiful and dynamic as any of the others – but the addition of that bright brass sound, which doesn’t seem like it should work at all, pushes the song into mindblowing territory, and makes this too-short EP a must-buy pretty much by itself. In fact, the one flaw of the EP is that it only gets truly transcendental once, with the rest of the songs fitting in admirably with the band’s canon but not quite reaching to the same height. That one trumpet part mixes so well with their sound, and in future releases I’d like to see what Empire! Empire! can do with adding other elements to their classic emo tone.
But I digress; the fact of the matter is that this is a great little release by an overlooked band. If you’re a fan, you may as well go out and buy it right now; you won’t be disappointed. If not, at only five bucks and just over 10 minutes, it’s a wonderful litmus test for whether you’d like the band’s full-length record. Here’s hoping for another one of those soon.