PopMatters home | short takes home | archivesPopMatters Music Short Takes
Empire State Human, Liquid Blue EP (Ninthwave)
After Depeche Mode's mainstream breakthrough in the late '80s, the record bins (if not always the airwaves) were loaded with an international revue of Mode sound-alikes. Germany had Camouflage and Celebrate the Nun, England had Red Flag, and even America had Anything Box. A decade late, but just in time for the '80s New Wave revival, Ireland gave us Empire State Human. Taking their name from an early Human League song, the trio combine pulsing, moody synths and earnest vocals with danceable electronic rhythms. This eight track EP, featuring several remixes, makes a few concessions to house music, but mostly stays rooted in "classic" synth pop. "We Are Industry", for example, is nothing more than a re-interpretation of Heaven 17's 1983 "Crushed by the Wheels of Industry". Despite the references to royalty, though, Liquid Blue is decidedly second tier.