It’s been five years since Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) put out a full length. Let’s be real though, it felt like a lot longer than that. And, oh, what a full length it was. What It Takes To Move Forward is a beautiful album from start to finish. It would be a fair question to ask if they could make a follow up that even meets the quality of that record. The answer is yes. Yes they fucking can, and have. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten has met and exceeded the expectations that led up to it. And of course it did. Keith and Cathy Latinen are amazing at what they do, and no one should be surprised.
It’s a little hard to write about Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) without touching on a few different subjects. The first being the sheer number of bands they exposed people to via split releases, tours, or releases on Count Your Lucky Stars. Like, it was through them that I found Dowsing, Joie De Vivre, and Football, Etc. The next obvious point is the sheer volume of releases they’ve put out. In the five years since the first the LP, they have released a boatload of 7 inches, either as splits or as EPs. Things have more or less been building to You Will Eventually Be Forgotten.
While not a huge departure from the earlier releases, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten is notable for how the songwriting has changed. Their older songs lived and breathed on more abstract, esoteric lyrics. The lyric here are entirely literal. The metaphors have given way to straight forward speech. These are lyrics that you can connect to outright, at face value. “Things Not Worth Fixing” is very much a story of getting out of college, having to move back home, and work a shit job that you feel you are above. “It’s So Much Darker When a Light Goes Out Than When It Would Have Been If It Had Never Shone” is a song about remembering an event celebrating grandparents’ anniversary, and how both grandparents became so intertwined in life that one shortly followed the other in after death. Album opener, “Ribbon” proposes that “there is always enough to get things done.” It bookends with “The Promise That Life Can Go On No Matter How Bad Our Losses” asking “is this still worth putting our lives on hold for?”
This is very much a record that tells 10 distinct little stories. The lyrics read like a biography of sorts. It covers childhood memories. There are stories of the unsure, exciting parts of an early relationship. It covers finding love and getting married. It is triumphant in parts, somber in other. It’s the mixture of exuberance and ennui that really makes the whole thing work.
The real crux of the release is the music. As it stands, it is not really anything unexpected for them. But, much like the songwriting itself, the music has been reigned in a bit. It has definitely built upon the songs from earlier in their discography, but has done so without retreading the sound they, and many other bands, have tread. It is going to be right up the alley of the genre purists who care more about style than substance, but it is also a record that bleeds authenticity. There is a certain level of brevity to these songs, and the album as a whole. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten is a tidy 38 minutes. It is much more focused than the double LP that preceded it. What It Takes To Move Forward clocked in at just about an hour. The difference in length is notable because both albums have the same number of songs.
“We Are People Here. We Are Not Numbers” is a great example of them recognizing the strengths of the older releases, but still evolving. It is a song that pushes the quiet/loud dynamic. Not in a Pixies or college rock way, but there is definitely a noticeable contrast. The song that immediately follows it, “You Have to Be So Much Better than You Ever Thought” is another song that has some bite to it. It feel more like a deep cut from their earlier releases. It kind of sits in the same territory that “So How Many Points Do You Have ‘Till You Gain, You Know, the Ultimate Power?” did. Otherwise, there are plenty of songs that will fit nicely in the “sad jams” tag they use on their BandCamp page.
So, to wrap this overly long review up, just go order this. Get it on vinyl, get it on cd, or get it digitally. Whatever works best for you. It is one of the best releases you’ll hear this year. That is a fact.
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Count Your Lucky Stars (Buy It)
Topshelf Records (Buy It)