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Empress Hotel

Heavy Halo

(Park the Van; US: 11 Sep 2012; UK: 17 Sep 2012)

This New Orleans outfit delivers off-kilter, intricate dance-pop on their new full length, Heavy Halo. As the title implies, there’s a lightness—or a brightness—to these songs, but it comes through in thick, weighty layers of sound, from the plinking guitars and heady keys of “Mach Bach” to the ringing hooks and vocal harmonies of “Baby Octopus”. These songs may remind you of the electro-rock high-flying of MGMT, but it’s got all the texture and complexity of any chamber-pop group you can think of.


The results are hooks that hit immediately, but details that keep the song sticking with you. Unfortunately, the lyrics don’t quite have the same knack. There’s plenty of stock imagery, from the lonely barflys to people who are both the “one” and the “only”. Songs seem to take place in any bar, in any “cold”. So while the music is definitively theirs, the lyrics feel too anonymous for their own good. Still, Heavy Halo is a sweet listen, even if you’re not always sure what the point of that sweet sound is by the end.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Empress Hotel - Holly
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21 Mar 2011
This is an inconsistent but fairly engaging EP, one that shows a band trying out a bunch of different things.
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