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empire state human
pop robot
ninth wave records   2001
  see also
empire state human website
ninth wave records website

album rating: 2

submitted by carl jenkinson on 20-Feb-2002

Taking an obvious cue from The Human League, Empire State Human hail from Eire & have been signed by the American Ninthwave Records for this debut commercial release. Whilst being broadly commercial the music does manage, by & large, to avoid any overly bright bouncey limp wristed pop, managing to maintain an air of mystery & making the album all the better for it. Seeing as it clocks in at a whopping 21 tracks, a considerable amount of variety is necessary & this is delivered with straightforward poppy tracks such as the opening "Hand On The Gun" & "Channel Five" with it's pacey infectious feel, the Kraftwerk-flavored rhythms of "Eastern Lights" sitting quite comfortably alongside the slow, classy, piano-based ballads that are "Under Your Spell" & the emotional instrumental "Sach's Theme". Aidan Casserley's vocals, whilst resembling Erasure's Andy Bell to an extent, prove easily able to cope with these differing styles with ease, even with the spoken/half rapped lead of "Film Star" which is pretty similar to that of Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant. Up & coming German act Wave In Head does the honors mixing "Swinging Pendulums" which provides greater rhythmic muscle (in comparison to the band's original which is somewhat more lightweight although still enjoyable) while some of the later tracks display more Kraftwerk influences, albeit in a more soulful setting. "Apollo" for one & the familiarly titled closer "Voice Of Radioland" for two, although Aidan's spoken vocals again bring proceedings back to more accessible realms. The instrumental "Flight From Mars" should also appeal for similar reasons with it's superb synth leads & imposing rhythms, alternating with more spacey, fx driven parts. Many of the tracks deal with traveling, whether worldwide or through space, most noticeably the excellent "Night Flight" (as featured on A Different Drum's "Shadow Dancing 2") as well as "Leap Of Faith" with it's female fronted chorus & the slightly slower "I Work For The Government". The dancey title track boasts a slowed down voice that marks the changes over a slightly more restrained backing. There's nothing restrained, though about the feelgood simplicity of "Into Your Life" which does prove a little OTT in terms of whimsical singalong commerciality but you can't have everything, can you?

Probably the band's strong points are their willingness to try slightly varying vocal treatments & also the very differing musical styles that crop up throughout, making for a far more satisfying listening experience. Allied with Ninthwave's established promotional clout the band should do well for themselves, the potential for great commercial success is undoubtedly there.

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