Empath – Visitor (2022) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Empath – Visitor (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 30:41 minutes | 610 MB | Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Female Vocal
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Fat Possum

The second album by Empath is full to brim with gems that stick in your head. The sound is chaotic and raw but totally locked in. If you imagine Alvvays or Veronica Falls but produced by one of the Elephant 6 Collective then, then this is Visitor by Empath. In other words magical!

Ask the members of Empath how things have changed since the release of their critically-acclaimed 2019 album, Active Listening: Night on Earth, and they’ll downplay it. Now, Empath release their sophomore full-length, Visitor, via Fat Possum, marking a seismic shift for the scrappy quartet who came up playing shows on Northeastern DIY circuits and now have just completed a tour with Modest Mouse. While the album holds steadfast to the careening, joyous noise Empath staked their name on, Visitor was produced by Jake Portrait, making it the first release the band has recorded with a producer in a formal studio.

For all the hullabaloo about contemporary young bands aping their ’90s counterparts, very few have captured part of what was so great about the era’s true indie rock: its unabashed humanity. Whether cynical or swooning with sincerity, it was up close, ragged and, to distort a Dinosaur Jr. album title, living all over you. (Maybe it’s the modern difference of social media fooling us all with pretend intimacy?) Philly band Empath get it right on their second album, though. “I believe what I see but/ It can all feel so mindless/ History comes back to you in shards,” Catherine Elicson sings amidst a haze so lo-fi dreamy it’s almost trippy. (Indeed, there’s a Dinosaur Jr. feel to those sunny, squalling guitars.) “You’re soft like leather in the heat/ Because devotion comes so easily,” go the lyrics of catchy “Born 100 Times,” its rapid-fire drums and messy noise like an exposed nerve. Bottom-heavy “Passing Stranger” is covered in thick fuzz and feels refreshingly real and unworried about perfection. Which isn’t to say it isn’t pretty—there’s lots of pretty here, in those aforementioned songs as well as the punky shoegaze of “Genius of Evil” and caffeinated pep of “House + Universe,” which goes from bouncy double-synth to a percussive mania. Elicson’s voice is femme but never fragile, and brazenly all over the place. (Not unlike another peer who gets it right, Alicia Bognanno of Bully.) “Corner of Surprise” trembles with an excitement that echoes Bow Wow Wow, and “80s” is as wriggly and excitable as a puppy. There are also surprises, like the ring-a-ding Vegas shimmer and strut of “Elvis Comeback Special” and the twitchy math-rock touches of “Paradise”—with Elicson sounding like a siren in every sense. It’s in no way fair to call them retro, but Empath’s embrace of old-school imperfection feels radical. – Shelly Ridenour

01. Empath – Genius of Evil (02:55)
02. Empath – Born 100 Times (02:08)
03. Empath – Diamond Eyelids (02:15)
04. Empath – Passing Stranger (04:07)
05. Empath – Corner of Surprise (01:01)
06. Empath – House + Universe (02:39)
07. Empath – Elvis Comeback Special (02:31)
08. Empath – 80s (02:15)
09. Empath – V (04:47)
10. Empath – Bell (03:06)
11. Empath – Paradise (02:53)