“There was an image we talked about very early on with this record, before we wrote the title track, Two Vines, and that was this image of a modern city overtaken by jungle, almost like mother nature taking back the planet.” – Nicholas Littlemore, Empire of the Sun
Empire of the Sun, masters of the alternative electro scene, are back with their third album, Two Vines. A record that pulses through energetic beats, opening with ‘Before’; the perfect balance of upbeat rhythms and chilled out waves of melodies, resulting in a calming ethereal track that offers an instant high.
This is a theme that carries on throughout the album, the light and breezy vocals offering a hazy shroud over the chorus of ‘There’s No Need’, however there’s not quite enough of a difference between the songs to keep us interested. Halfway through it all becomes a little stale.
However, the record is still capable of creating a good energy. Empire of the Sun are great at combining psychedelic grooves with dance floor beats, it just seems that with Two Vines they’ve pushed more to the dance side. There’s nothing exactly wrong with that, but it’s not quite reaching expectations that they’ve laid out for us over the years.
The title track does everything it ought to, encapsulating the whole feel of the album in a concise matter of minutes. It’s a sound we’re familiar with that’s heading into a new direction. It’s just a shame that when spread out across the album, it falls a little flat. Two Vines is inconsistent in its ability to grasp the listener.
Thankfully, there are moments in between where the album picks up, with ‘Way To Go’ punching through as the most anthemic of the lot. Catchy elements and warped vocals during the bridge mark it out as a stand out hit.
The main issue is that there’s nothing to match their best known track ‘Walking on a Dream’ – there doesn’t have to be something identical, but nothing on this album manages to soar anywhere near those heights. Empire of the Sun are pumping up the rhythm but to very little avail.
So, after an array of pulsing anthems that almost blur into one, final track ‘To Her Door’ somewhat ironically strikes us with its softer manner; gentle vocals and serene melodies. It picks up on the otherworldly notes that we’ve been missing thus far – better late than never, supposedly.
Despite some stand out tracks, there are too many generic tones that see Two Vines slip into the background. Play this among a crowd and it will go down a treat, but there’s no real payoff as a stand-alone album. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but neither is there anything that makes it particularly great.
Although there’s no real urge to give it a repeat listen, save for a few songs, there’s no doubt it’ll appear on a number of party playlists. It may slip into the background, but there’ll certainly be some good times had when listening to Two Vines.
Two Vines is out October 28th via ASTRALWERKS.