This summer, the Denver indie rock sextet Instant Empire will release its debut full-length, Lamplight Lost. The LP was recorded and produced by John Vanderslice, who has also worked with Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, and the Mountain Goats. The influence of the former two of those groups can be heard in the music of Instant Empire, along with a smattering of others such as The Hold Steady, Bright Eyes, and Phantom Planet. Quite wisely, Instant Empire avoids the navel-gazing lo-fi stylistics that are still en vogue in the indie world, and instead does well in emphasizing the rock in “indie rock”.
Vocalist Scotty Saunders tells PopMatters, “Lyrically, the idea for ‘Dead Air’ came about after visiting a good friend who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. The Contra cheat code reference from the old Konami video game became a metaphor for our struggles with death and dying: how do we cope; how do we face our fears; can we escape it? We tracked most of the song live to tape in hopes of tapping into a sense of urgency. Musically speaking, I think we captured some of that darkness—that almost sinister element—and the pre-choruses really start to ramp up the tension. Hopefully, the song will mean different things to different people, but we always try to write songs with layered meanings that people can dive into.”
The self-released Lamplight Lost is out on 23 June.