WACK and Avex’s collaborative group (no, the other one) have decided to get a little 70’s to switch things up and boy do these EMPiRE SOUNDS feel SUPER GOOD.
EMPiRE are definitely a stand-out group within WACK; instead of the gritty pop-punk and Matsukuma Kenta patented idol rock ballads you’d expect they boast a wide catalogue of electronic post-rock. Each era has it’s own definitive sound and look with “the EMPiRE STRiKES START!!!” setting their standard with some light references to space and Star Wars, “EMPiRE originals” turning a little more to the melancholic side and “the GREAT JOURNEY ALBUM” relying more on synth guitars while throwing us into the future. But what is their SUPER COOL EP all about?
As you might have guessed, it does sound SUPER COOL.
This era kicked off with their SUPER FEELiNG GOOD tour which, as you might have guessed, didn’t actually happen because of Covid. The tour poster for promo when it dropped was very exciting because of the SUPER COOL visuals – that 70’s psychedelic motif is so obvious it feels like it was vomited on me in the pit at a Hendrix show.
If you’re too young to pick up on things from days since past, the typography is very reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange” which uses a typeface that was largely endemic to that decade. Basically just throw the phrase “groovy fonts” into Google and you’ll understand.
The psychedelic imagery then continued with the release of the music video to ORDiNARY, a heartfelt, almost stripped back rock ballad with a guitar led dance break surrounded by datamoshed visuals.
ORDiNARY’s b-side “I have to go” is also not what you’d expect either, featuring an easy breezy lyric video featuring MAHO EMPiRE on a stroll through Tokyo.
But what comes next? An audiovisual treat for something that’ll leave you SUPER FEELiNG GOOD.
If your Japanese is a little rusty don’t worry, the majority of the song is packed with feel-good English phrases, leaving you with a grin that people in the actual 70’s only got when partaking in the devil’s lettuce. The video sets the tone for the EP even more too, with the gorgeous visuals juxtaposed alongside the usual 3D graphics that EMPiRE hammer into everything they do.
And finally, we gear up for the EP release itself with the music video for This is EMPiRE SOUNDS.
There’s a limit on how many times you can use the phrases “70’s” and “psychedelic” in one article, but the video really is giving us all that and more. Imagine if they decided to reboot Hawaii 5-0 a third time but with a team of supermodels and instead of fighting crime, they just drank champagne and shot things. This is a peak into that truly superior world.
They might have only given NOW EMPiRE one line again, but they also gave her a glock. A fair trade.
SUPER COOL EP’s early release was hallmarked with what was advertised as a “listening party”. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, K-pop and western pop fans do it a lot during new releases where they’ll all band together and agree to watch the same video at the same time to bolster views and streams. EMPiRE’s official listening party turned out to be a bit of a bait and switch – it was actually a complete performance of every song on the EP! If you missed it don’t worry, they uploaded SUPER FEELiNG GOOD for you to watch as many times as you want. There’s still time to order the deluxe edition of the EP too, it comes with a complete Blu-ray of the performance with extra older songs.
EMPiRE are very much a visual group – they were all hired on the basis that they’re exceptionally gorgeous with the ability to stay in sync with one another and their graphic designer is probably the most overworked person on Earth. Everything surrounding their SUPER COOL EP shows the amount of effort it takes to be able to successfully blend the heart of their concept’s 3D, futuristic visuals with some retro themes.
If this is a group you’ve tended to overlook, there’s no better starting point for what they’re all about than their new EP. It is SUPER GOOD after all.