The loud, bass-heavy, guitar-rich rock of “Five” by Empty Flowers made for an interesting listen … especially for someone more accustomed to post-rock soundscapes. The post-hardcore sound of “five” had some real highlights … but it had a few lows too.
Their personnel set up works: Christian McKenna‘s earnest vocals work well as a counter-point to Randy Larsen‘s driving bass and Bernie Romanowski‘s understated guitar. The picture is completed with Andre Galiffi‘s drumming which is just right for their overall sound. They sound tight & together … and I can only imagine how good they sound live. I can envision a riotous evening, for sure.
However, when it comes to the content on the EP, it was a bit more mixed for me:
The opening track – ‘Five’ – is a mostly-instrumental bass-heavy rock out. Musically, it sets the scene for the rest of the album, but vocally, it doesn’t – the vocals didn’t work for me … they felt ’bolted on’ to what was a fab instrumental. This was one of my criticisms … the rest of the EP sounding far more ’together’ than ‘Five’.
The second track – ‘I get to know its name’ – was, by far, my fave track … a blistering, driving track that really shows the band at their best: tight & muscled … albeit what a “Chinese Radish” is, I have no idea.
The third track – ‘Lousey Phil’ – was more midtempo with guitars that sound like MacKaye‘s Fugazi work.
‘Time feeds the dose’ is a far more uptempo affair with some seriously good bass work from Larsen. It is a foot-stomping affair that, again, demonstrates how good and vibrant this band are when they are on the same page.
The fifth track – “Carfires” – on the other hand, is a totally unremarkable dirge. Slow, dull & really, really uninteresting. Whilst it may be a welcome point of respite from the driving force of the first four tracks for some … for me, it was an end track rather than a middler. It just doesn’t seem to fit.
‘The Water’ brings the tempo back to where it should be. It is a loud, jangly wall-of-sound that reminded of the late 80’s Sub Pop sound … a reminder I welcomed.
The penultimate track – ‘Quit’ – is a feisty, bass-heavy number with earnest, charged vocals from Christian McKenna.
The EP then finishes with ‘Trained not to worry’ which follows ‘Carfires’ as a down-tempo piece albeit far less of a dirge. It is a fitting ending point to the EP … one that demonstrates the band’s capability as a group of musicians. Personally, I prefer the piece when it picks up the tempo around the 2-minute mark.
Empty Flowers are at their best, in my opinion, when they are on the move with their music. Their forays into a more downtempo space just are not as good as the moments when the bass is driving, the drums are galloping, & the guitar is making a joyful noise.
As such, I’d give this EP 6 out of 10 … and recommend it to folks who like post-hardcore sounds. Just skip ‘Carfires’.