Norway’s Sløtface released their Empire Records EP last Friday and the record is a wonderfully nostalgic blast of vibrant pop punk. The EP’s title tips its hat to the iconic film of the same name, but the record owes more than its title and title track to the music cinema of the late Nineties and early Aughts. With each track a single that could’ve been plucked from a classic soundtrack from those eras, Empire Records is an EP filled with youthful hope in the power of music and tunes worth believing in.
Empire Records opens with “Bright Lights”, a slow burn rocker that expertly plays with a loud/soft dynamic to make quiet moments rawly intimate and louder moments anthemic. As the droned out arpeggio goes from clean to distorted, singer Haley Shea’s earnest vocals add an emotional weight to the track. “Take Me Dancing” has an infectious energy and forward momentum that never lets up. Lasse Lokøy’s acrobatic basslines dance across the chorus as Shea pleads for a mindless escape from a reality of lost and abandoned dreams.
If you’ve got to have and really need a sugar high to get by, look no further than the sweet pop punk rush of the title track. An ode to not only the Liv Tyler film, but High Fidelity and the simple adolescent fantasy of working in a record store, “Empire Records” is a celebration of a track that encapsulates all the giddiness and excitement of a Sonic Death Monkey performance or Rex Manning Day itself.
“Fever Art” closes the EP with lyrics again focusing on the magic of the mundane as Shea attempts to convince both herself and a former flame that she’s doing fine. The song builds to a lush chorus of Tor-Arne Vikingstad’s layered clean and distorted guitars against Halvard Skeie Wiencke’s varied percussion that touches upon everything from punk rock to jazz. With its powerful finish, Empire Records demonstrates that nostalgia and longing often go hand in and hand and that the raw emotions and passions of youth do not always fade.