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The Sounds They Made
Pehr Records

This album renews my sense of hope. I admit, I have been a bit remiss in keeping up to date with the state of the slow-core rock genre. I still look for new albums from Low on occasion, and somewhat lazily follow the career of Mark Kozelek. Other than that, I kind of thought this genre was dying, or dead. Boy, was I wrong.

The Empress has released a new record that lives up to the dreamy, softly lilting best of this style of music. The major difference? Length. The Sounds They Made is ten songs long, but it clocks in at just around 26 minutes. Talk about shunning the existing merits of your genre! No slow driving ten minute anthems here. Which is exciting. For a young band from Leeds, who have gone through numerous line-up changes in their short history, the music is simply divine. Nicola's voice shines like a bright star in a midsummer's night, lending a sense of reality to the soft textures of the underlying music.

The songs are beds of nondescript sounds and electric pianos. There are slow plucked guitars ("The Worry And The Wine") that sing out in heavenly echoes of grace. The songs are fitted out with just enough sound to keep them moving, filling space with softness, rather than any distorted or rough edges. Each song maintains a distinct personality within the overall package of sound, but never falls far from the tree. The slow and deliberate piano rhythm of "All Is New Glow" is underscored with ambient noises and reverse reverb loops- reminiscent of some of Looper's finest work. "Snowshoes' is 1:17 of joy, sounding as if it belongs among the soundtrack to a dreamy Christmas-time story.

If commuting by train between Leeds and Wales can make music this transcendent, count me in. I'll buy a full year's pass.

-Embo Blake

Track listing:

1. The Summer December Starts
2. Alwensound
3. All Is New Glow
4. Fleet
5. The Worry And The Wine
6. For Trains
7. Snowshoes
8. It's Not all It's Cracked Up To Be
9. The Cold Stars That Shivered And Glittered And Lived
Vodka And The Verlaines


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