Empath share video for new single "Elvis Comeback Special", New album "Visitor" out now!



(Photo Credit: Marie Lin)

Empath have shared a video for “Elvis Comeback Special,” the final single from their anticipated new album, Visitor. The animated video was directed by frequent Empath collaborator Halle Ballard. Visitor, which was named one of the most anticipated albums of 2022 by Pitchfork and Paste - and scored early 4-star reviews in the UK from Mojo and Uncut - is out this Friday 11th Feb via Fat Possum.

“‘Elvis’ started as a discarded voice memo. Sometimes I’ll play little guitar parts and melodies into my phone and then not think anything of them until many months later. When I listen back it’s like listening to someone else’s music and I can hear the song more clearly,” says Catherine Elicson. “So I fleshed out all the parts, and when I brought it to the whole band, all these unexpected rhythms and melodies popped out of the song. The song came to life; that’s the most exciting part of collaborating as a band.

The lyrics took me the longest of any song to complete. The morning of the day I was to sing all my vocals in the studio, I was sitting outside a cafe hyped on caffeine and sweatily typing new words into my notes app. The lyrics deal with the feeling of uncertainty in yourself when you’re caught up in someone else’s world and you have to disentangle fantasy and cold reality. Because the song has these sharply rhythmic moments, Jake [Portrait] suggested I sing the lyrics really lazily as a contrast. The effect, though subtle, added a more compelling vibe to the whole song. ”

Inspired by the disquieting scores of Nosferatu (1922) and The Wicker Man (1973) alongside David Bowie’s Low and forever favorites Fleetwood Mac, Visitor marks a seismic shift for the Philadelphia, PA quartet. While the album holds steadfast to the careening, joyous noise Empath staked their name on, Visitor was produced by Jake Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra), making it the first release the band has recorded with a producer in a formal studio.

Empath is hitting the road in the US and Canada later this month. Tour dates include shows with Sunflower Bean, a hometown show in March, and a headline run in April. All dates can be found here.



On Visitor, Empath sought to one-up the range of sounds heard on their previous album. During what he calls West Philly Christmas (the week undergrads at UPenn move out and leave piles of high-quality garbage out on the street) Randall Coon recovered a suitcase organ with a sound bank from a Jamiroquai record preset on it, which he later played on the album, in addition to running samples on Ableton and acquiring a brand new synth; Jem Shanahan, who plays a ‘90s children’s keyboard, had Portrait filter it in such a way that it sounded “less childlike”; Catherine Elicson’s vocals, buried deep in the mix on Active Listening: Night on Earth, take center stage; and Garrett Koloski’s drums are as capacious as they might be in a live set.

“Our approach to songwriting, and what we constantly try to improve upon, is finding the meeting ground between all of our distinct points of view and ideas we are trying to achieve sonically and conceptually,” Elicson says. “We never want to be tied down to one type of song or sound, and we love all kinds of improvisational music. We try to fit everything we love into each song, and hopefully produce something new and exciting through that process of synthesis.”

Visitor attempts to fill space, both physical and psychic, visible and invisible. The album’s cover was photographed by Andrew Emond, who captures the interiors of abandoned buildings. “The spaces look lived in and altered by humans but no humans are present,” Elicson reflects. “The songs are similar in the sense that they talk about the ‘space’ between people. They’re not about specific people per se, but they illustrate the feelings people leave between each other, these subjective experiences. You can think of Visitor as a soundtrack to the memories and feelings that remain in places people have left behind.”

In the process of writing the lyrics to “Diamond Eyelids,” Catherine patchworked memories together, prioritizing a likeness in sensation over the circumstantial. “History comes back to you in shards that I reach out to touch,” she sings, a hint of desperation in her voice. “Tell me we create love in absence.” Rather than compete, the song’s two melodies coalesce, a sensation that’s at once catchy and just slightly unnerving. “That song has pop sensibilities, but it’s weird and heavy at the same time,” Coon says. “That's definitely something we strive for,” Koloski adds. “We want to throw all these experimental ideas in but at the end of the day, we want people to be able to sing along to it.”

On the muscly, two-chord progression of “Born 100 Times,” the closest to a punk song Visitor has to offer, Elicson’s razor sharp delivery serves as a counterweight to the instrumental onslaught. “We tried to balance the lyrical whimsy with instrumental heaviness and hoped to transcend both,” Elicson says. It also boasts some of her best writing, distilling humid pangs of midsummer love in an unforgettable line: “You’re soft like leather in the heat because devotion comes so easily, in every color you can dream.”

Empath included a series of samples on Visitor, all of which cohere to make the album sound as if it's disrupting ambient noise. “Audio was taken from films, minecraft, a cassette of nature sounds from the Bayou, recordings of an air conditioner, and a church choir heard through the walls of the warehouse we rehearse in,” Elicson says. “It’s a collage of sounds intended to produce a feeling of hearing life through the walls.” Visitor attempts to bridge the space between. It’s an impossible task, surely, but the result of their efforts produces a transcendent experience all its own.

Empath Visitor Out February 11th on Fat Possum Pre-Order HERE 1. Genius of Evil 2. Born 100 Times 3. Diamond Eyelids 4. Passing Stranger 5. Corner of Surprise 6. House + Universe 7. Elvis Comeback Special 8. 80s 9. V 10. Bell 11. Paradise