Soundslab Empirical State

Empirical State is the debut album from Soundslab (aka singer-songwriter Barry James McCarthy). It suffers from amateurish post-production that isn't only mixed badly but does nothing to help the flow of ideas, of which there are many. The first track alone ("This is the Day") has multiple synth parts, heavy guitar, a drum machine break, a piano and McCarthy's Ian Curtis-aping vocals (which is actually somewhat impressive, despite the needlessness of it all). It sounds as if McCarthy is attempting to bridge the sound of Joy Division with New Order while cramming in sounds he finds interesting and engaging. If anything, this achieves the opposite of its intended effect. McCarthy is a creative mind who badly needs an editor other than himself, and his bandmates, to let him know when that out-of-key synth ending, à la "You Are Electric," is, well, out of key. (The House Ablaze)