This is a varied piece of work. The opening track, “Come Out Shooting” kicks off with the same old throat shredding one can hear on any of a gazillion shitty albums in 2008. But the playing that underpins the track is a snaky midtempo groove, and the chorus features actual singing, with harmonies, no less!
Pierce the Empire reveals new sonic treasures on each track. The drums-recorded-a-block-away aesthetic on “Passchendaele” sets the dreamy, spooky mood. And “Across the Light” starts out sounding like something Brian Eno might’ve included on Another Green World. Its duet vocal is evocative; of what, I can’t be sure, but it’s cool.
And it only gets better. “The Hexagon” features loads of keyboard (mostly grand piano) to bookend a lovely instrumental, one that’s led by a heavy bass melody. “The Hexagon” features a compelling mix of real drums and sampled/looped percussion, and this approach — coupled with the consistently intelligent use of keyboards — is repeated throughout the album.
“The Fall of Las Vegas” fades in with some cool analog synth, but gives way to another screamo session. Perhaps it’s here just to reach out to that segment of the marketplace that likes vocals but hates, er, singing. But even here Nathan Burke makes sure to mix in some dreamy singing between the vocal self-immolation, and a plaintive string arrangement in the outro. The proceedings are wrapped with the excellent and atmospheric keyboard-based “Scarlet.” (The other tracks not enumerated here are also quite good.)
An otherwise excellent album, it’s docked for the screaming on two tracks.