Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl.
Background/Info: London (UK) based duo Isaac Howlett – Adam Relf set up empathy Test in 2013. They took the world by surprise releasing two successful albums (cf. “Losing Touch” and “Safe From Harm”) in 2017. The band became one of the newest and hottest revelations in electro-pop land. Three years later now, the duo has been joined by extra members Christina Lopez (drums) and Oliver Marson (synths). 2020 also is the year of the band’s third full length “Monsters”.
Content: What made Empathy Test successful? Well, I always have had something with British formations because they have something different. That’s precisely what “Monsters” is illustrating. This is not just electro-pop music, but a sound with an own approach and a very personal spirit. The somewhat androgenic timbre of singer Isaac Howlet remains an easy, recognizable aspect, but sound-wise there’s this constant duality between bombastic drum sections and refined electronics. The work sounds melancholic while several songs also have a deeply, evasive format. “Monsters” is also a danceable album although avoiding the somewhat cheap dance-pop style.
+ + + : “Monsters” remains an album in the purest DIY approach and that’s an aspect I’ve always highly appreciated. But next to this personal approach, Empathy Test again accomplished a great piece of music. The songs are original for having this personal sound DNA, which is mixing bombast and subtlety. The vocal lines also remain an essential aspect of the band. “Monsters” reveals several beautiful songs, tracks with an emotional layer that will bring you to dance, to dream and maybe to cry. “Stop” and “Incubation Song” both are little jewels you’ll discover. The already familiar title track –opening this opus, remains an essential cut as well. I could also mention a few other songs, but I’ll just talk about “Love Moves”, which is a somewhat sensual last song featured on “Monsters”.
– – – : From a very personal point of view, I sometimes would like to hear Empathy Test a bit more into harder dance cuts. I however realize they this way would lose the very own sound DNA I was talking about.
Conclusion: Melancholia remains the favorite muse of electro-pop artists, but some are definitely more talented than others to transpose it into an artistic creation. Empathy Test definitely is one of those artists!
Best songs: “Stop”, “Incubation Song”, “Monsters”, “Holy Rivers”, “Love Moves”, “Fear Of Disappearing”.