Empathy Test’s By My Side/Vampire Town EP is the latest in a so far strong body of work from this London duo. Read Amy’s review of it here.
From the beginning, the music has had a core feel to it, a certain sound which is undeniably theirs, and shows a clear talent for shaping rich, emotionally involved soundscapes, but this latest release has a fresh gloss. Certainly, over the course of four EPs, and numerous live performances, Empathy Test have refined their art, polishing the music to the point where this, whilst retaining the essential Empathy Test feel, showcases a definite and continuous path of progress.
Both tracks are an electronic symphony of sounds, beautifully arranged across the gliding bassline grooves and crisp percussive elements that we’ve come to associate with Empathy Test by now, and all finished off with the familiar clear, melancholic vocals which drive the songs straight into the heart.
By My Side deals with themes of regret and reflection, the difficulties which come from inability to connect, or to speak about the things which matter most (“There’s a great white elephant, hidden in the room, maybe you didn’t see him in the gloom”.) It’s a beautifully bleak song, and perhaps a little hard to listen to for anyone who’s ever felt the sort of loneliness which comes from no longer being able to connect with a person or place they once cared deeply for.
Vampire Town, by contrast, has a feel of acceptance and moving forward. It’s the antithesis to By My Side, in a way. Letting go of regret, taking a last look at what’s gone before leaving for new beginnings. The sound is more pop-like in places, a little more upbeat, a little faster paced. There’s that characteristic melancholia threading through, in the tone, the lyrics, the notes themselves, but it’s not the hopeless sadness of loss and regret, but the darkness of uncertainty as you stand on the edge of potential and adventure.