On her second full-length LP, EMA reaches
new levels of greatness.
Like so many, we first heard EMA (Erika M. Anderson) after the release of her second album, Past Life Martyred Saints in 2011. It was the album that came out of nowhere, quietly released but catching fire two weeks later. The album that nobody saw coming was one of the sleeper hits of the year, and for good reason! Martyred Saints was a fresh, addictive sound of industrial and lo-fi noise pop. Along with Anderson’s airy vocals, and thrash intensity, the album caught the attention of nearly every music blog and EMA found herself on nearly every best of list of the year.
While the bar was set high for a followup, EMA took her time and is back with “The Future’s Void.” While most artists use their sophomore release to either reinvent themselves or rehash the same formula, EMA sought to mature her sound. Seeking inspiration musically from Nine In Nails demos, and lyrically focusing on themes of technology obsession, The results are nothing short of brilliant!
From the opening track, and lead single, “Satellites” the album picks up where Martyred Saints left off with plenty of static and gut rocking bass. The musical layers that were drowning each other on Martyred Saints have found their respective levels, especially the vocals which are brought up front where they belong. The instrumentation is more defined without losing the noise-pop industrial feel.
After bridging the albums, the first right turn comes with “So Blonde” which is more developed musically. The old EMA is still there with plenty of screams on the refrain, but it stands as the most straight up rock song we have heard from her yet.
Getting back to the vein of “The Grey Ship” from Martyred Saints, “3Jane” is more solid, lightening up on the metaphors and gaining understanding and appreciation in the process. Anderson shows off her vocal skills in her most somber song to date, and handles it amazingly. The intensity comes back full throttle with “Cthulhu” that grows and grows like a demon chasing you down a hallway while Anderson wails.
The final act is perhaps the greatest. “100 Years” opens with a soul piercing vocal track that is a deadly cocktail of both innocence and fear. With the subtle strings, and never going beyond its borders, the track is hauntingly beautiful. “Solace” has an great melody, with the industrial vibe returning. Warning: the bridge just might make your head explode from this level of awesomeness. Finally, the closing “Dead Celebrity” shines lyrically and drives the albums premise home. “Who can judge us, who can love us, who can blame the world and me cause we wanted something timeless in this world full of speed.” While that the fireworks fade out, the song is finished, the album is finished, and we are left begging for more.
The Future’s Void works on many different levels. EMA has moved beyond the cryptic metaphors and while the songs are not straight to the point lyrically, the subject matter of each song is much better delivered. Her messages of technology overload, social media obsessiveness, and media overexposure are well received. In addition, Anderson’s vocal work has grown more confident and prominent, something that seemed washed out on Martyred Saints.
The Future’s Void has struck the perfect balance of connecting with its predecessor and standing on its own as an album that is nothing short of brilliant!
The Futures Void is EMA’s first album on Matador Records. As we have stated before, the good folks at Matador never let us down when it comes to releasing top shelf LP’s. The album pressed on pink vinyl, and comes with a full color jacket, insert, lyric sheet, and download card. You can pick up a copy now from your local independent record store or from the Matador Records Website.