Bandy around the term pop-rock and the mind initially goes to some sort of middle of the road, fashion-driven dross that neither delivers the immediacy of the former nor the integrity of the later. But what if there was a way of taking the instant hook and inherent melody of a pop approach and weld it onto a driving, urgent and robust rock vehicle. Surely anyone who could do that would be carried head high through the streets, would be called saviours, the rainmakers of this current music drought, would be regarded as heroes and brave cross-genre gene splicers of the modern musical age. Or if you are looking for a more modest title you could just call them Even Nine.
Empires carries on the bands worthy quest to eschew the theatrics and histrionics that rock music finds itself wallowing, offer more honest and direct musical options and deliver their latest raft of hook heavy tunes. Okay, it is much more a rock album than pop one but somewhere within their effortless ability to write memorable guitar lines, ear-worming choruses, driving, danceable beats and commercially viable music, a pop heart beats. It’s just that it isn’t always obvious when clothed in rock and roll trappings. Maybe it is time we took back the word pop from the clutches of the quick buck music merchants and their production line landfill and used it again in the way it was intended when it was applied to everyone from Ash to The Icicle Works to The Small Faces and beyond.
And even if songs such as I Should’ve Moved The Earth are bathed in reflective soulfulness and Snowblind shows their ability to dial things back to delicate balladry, for the most part they push a ballsy, euphoric and easily accessible rock identity. Bulletproof is classic fist in the air anthemics, Back To The Drawing Board is a slinky blues groover and the title track is built on a riff so spot-on that I can guarantee it will pop back into your head unbidden days later when least expected…such as when you are doing the washing up for example. Fact! How do I know? It did.
Rock has the ability to add substance to the often-vacuous nature of modern pop and in turn pop has the ability to sneak rock attributes through the snobbish barricades the genre often builds for itself and on to more fertile and lucrative pastures. No one knows this better than Even Nine. No one puts this into practice better than Even Nine.