Good bands find something that they can do well, and stick with it throughout their careers in hopes of finding an audience. On the other hand, GREAT bands are characterized by the desire to constantly grow and evolve in their lives as artists, never staying in one place and never slowing down for anyone or anything.
If they had stayed the course that was plainly laid out before them after their stellar first full-length What It Takes to Move Forward, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) could easily have been identified as one of the former types of bands. However, the husband-wife duo from Fenton, Michigan weren’t satisfied with their status as one of the most respected names in modern emo music (not to mention their successful indie label, Count Your Lucky Stars Records). No, the same qualities that motivate great bands proved their existence within the pair with the release of their second LP, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten.
The album represents something of a makeover for Empire! Empire!. At their core, the basic sounds and instrumentation that defined them in the past remains intact (imagine Mineral meets Death Cab For Cutie meets Bright Eyes), but their songwriting style has undergone some major changes. There was no questioning Keith Lantinen’s superb lyrical ability in the past, that’s for sure, but he’s taken it to a whole other level this time around.
Existing somewhere between spoken word and a “storytelling” rap, the lyrics on each track take the form of eleven separate narratives, each varying in length and depth. They’re so straightforward and easy to follow, in fact, that the album has an accompanying graphic novel with eleven chapters, illustrating the songs. Keith isn’t playing a character here, nor is he trying to connect separate plot points from all the tracks together. No, as I see it, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten as a whole represents Keith trying to develop his own character to his audience.
The stories take place in very different parts of his lifetime: boyhood, college, even his wedding day. The location and time of each occurrence doesn’t connect them, however; what does is the fact that they’re all experiences that helped shape him into the person he is. These events affected his perspective of the world, what he believes in, and how he lives his day-to-day life. Listening to this record isn’t a journey from point a to point b, beginning to end…it’s a more like a case study on the speaker and his life experiences. The feeling of discovery and emotional connection achieved from this sort of lyrical style is, in my opinion, what truly makes the album unique and special.
“Emo”, as 99.9% of you reading this probably know, is short for “emotional”, and if I’m being honest, I feel as though Empire! Empire! have discovered an entirely new way to breach their audience’s emotional barriers through lyricism and vocals on their new LP. A huge part of the genre is connection with the audience through lyrics and themes, and I can confidently say that I connected with and related to this record in ways that I wasn’t previously familiar with. They haven’t really progressed at all instrumentally since their last full-length, but when compared to the gigantic leaps they’ve made in terms of everything else, it doesn’t seem like a very significant detail to point out.
All in all, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten is a very important piece of art, not only to the genre and the independent music scene as a whole, but to the record’s audience as well. In fact, the album solidifies Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate’s status as a “great” band – one with a relentless desire to break new artistic ground, and to reach their listeners in ways that no one’s ever thought of before.