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Emporium - The Afterlife

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 26 / 1 / 2013

Emporium - The Afterlife
Label: Platform Whimsical
Format: CD


Excellent final album from diverse and recently disbanded Edinburgh-based group, Emporium

Scottish band Emporium, who announced their break-up in December, have left us with a final album, ‘The Afterlife’, which was put together by the band's lead singer Ewan McKenzie. The songs for the album were written and recorded between 2010 and 2012, and after they released a compilation record, 'From Another Planet - The Best of Emporium', in the spring of last year. They relive the 70’s psychedelic voyages of their past on ‘The Afterlife’, but it is immersed in a sea of other influences as well us that includes Britpop and garage rock and also throws in various 80's synthesiser melodies from decades gone by. Originally formed as a three-piece in Edinburgh in January 1998, Emporium released their first album, which was made largely from home recordings and entitled 'A Fine Fine Line' later that year, but they chose to remain studio-based for most of the years that followed that. They have released various other recordings, including critically acclaimed albums such as 'It's the Thought that Gets You High', 'Hallucinations' and 'Silver Brainwaves' On first listening, I couldn't fathom out where we were musically. Were we in the 60’s, 70’s 80’s, 90’s or noughties? The sound was so diverse, yet held together quite nicely with spatterings of Spector’s wall of sound or a smidgen of Weller or a trickle elsewhere of 80's electronic bands such as Blancmange or OMD. Wherever they gleaned their music from, it certainly takes its roots from the 60’s and Britpop, but it also had its feet wading in the New Wave and Futuristic movements. The album itself won’t break any records, but don't get me wrong here. This is an album you will keep coming back to again and again as its lyrics and themes are totally addictive. Despite all their retro influences, ‘The Afterlife’ is very much about the feelings of today. Many a time I (and perhaps you as well) have thought I was going off the path a little and starting to go a bit crazy, and the piano-driven 'Mindbender' nails that feeling for me with its lines of "Making me think/I'm trying not to break/ In case you crawl beneath my skin." The message of the synth-laden title track is brought home from the start with a distorted answer phone message at its beginning - "Welcome to the afterlife/Life has flashed before your eyes." The simple things we all suffer from time to time like suddenly wanting to just go to sleep sometimes and not knowing why is brought to life on 'Magical Things'. Other standout tracks include 'Umbrella Shop' and the short but enthralling dreamscape instrumental, ‘Return of the Lost Tribe'. While they may not break any records with ‘The Afterlife’, it should however raise a few eyebrows with the critics and pick up some more well-earned final applause for Emporium. And quite rightly too....

Track Listing:-
1 The Afterlife
2 Bluebell Wood
3 Distance
4 Mindbender
5 Magical Things
6 Static
7 Beautiful Insanity (Don't Fit In)
8 The Umbrella Shop
9 Cosmic Voyage
10 Return of the Lost Tribe
11 Cascade Down
12 Killed Her
13 Funeral
14 Ending

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Silver Brainwaves (2011)
Sublime 1960's-influenced pop on reissue of 2005 fourth album from Edinburgh-based band, Emporium

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