Our Simple Truths
20th May 2016 – Self-release
01. Hands and Tongues
04. Patchwork and Bone
05. Sweet Apollo (Brighter Than The Sun)
It’s hard to believe that it has been over two and a half years since Empire released their debut mini-album Where The World Begins. In the interim, the British quintet have been steadily building their reputation for delivering barnstorming live sets stuffed with hooky alt-rock anthems. With this follow-up EP, Our Simple Truths, Empire add five new songs to their arsenal.
Our Simple Truths does feel like an appropriate title for this small but perfectly formed, collection of tracks. There is something refreshingly straightforward and uncomplicated about Empire’s songwriting. All five songs fall under the four minute mark and, given the unrelentingly high quality, any one of them could feasibly have been picked as the lead single. Opening track “Hands and Tongues” features probably the heaviest riff of the lot, but throughout Our Simple Truths the energy levels remain high, and the vibe upbeat. It’s certainly not difficult to imagine large festival fields bouncing in unison to these infectious riffs, and singing along en masse with the positively gigantic choruses. In the main, Empire’s sound feels reminiscent of the likes of Incubus, Skunk Anansie and early Muse, with just a hint of punky energy slipping into the driving instrumentation to propel the songs along.
Of course, Empire’s less-than-secret weapon is the startling vocal talent of Joe Green. Joe deftly deploys his considerable range, saving the most vertiginous acrobatics for the dynamic peaks of these expertly crafted songs, so that it never feels gratuitous or showy. There’s also an unabashed pop influence to his instantly accessible melodies and lyrics, which seem to draw as much from the eighties titans like Duran Duran as from any heavier, rockier bands. In closing track “Sweet Apollo (Brighter Than The Sun)“, there’s also a subtle and surprising hint of Morrissey evident in Joe’s phrasing during the verses.
The net result of this unfussy songwriting and uncomplicated sentiment is that Our Simple Truths takes on a kind of timeless quality. It would be fair to say that Empire aren’t exactly doing anything radical or original, but they do what they do so well that this simply doesn’t matter in the slightest. These tracks reach out to welcome you like old friends after just a couple of listens, and the absence of gimmicks or nods to any passing fads means they’re likely to stay that way.
Whilst it’s perhaps a disappointment that the relatively long wait since Where The World Begins has yielded less than twenty minutes of new material, it’s such a sleek and efficient statement of intent that it’s hard to feel short changed. The simple truth here is that Our Simple Truths is a practically essential collection of high quality rock songs with ‘instant classic’ stamped all over them. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait quite so long for the next instalment.