A distinct early aughts indie rock flair defines Equals Conquest’s deeply felt “At the Heart of the Empire”. The whole band is pure fire, from the emotive hit of the drums to the passionate vocals that rise above the din. With a multifaceted approach they manage to defy listener expectations. Despite the theatrical aspect of the work, they bring in elements of hard rock, metal, folk, jazz, even grunge into the mixture. Quite thoughtful the album proceeds down a long and winding path. Storytelling ties the entire experience together for there is a bliss about it, one that feels ever so soothing.
The Decemberists’ work features prominently as a reference point. Everything about it has an expansiveness to it, for the instrumental variety further adds to the spirit of the collection. Nods to early Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! adds to the intensity of the work, for it careens wildly at times. Perhaps the main backbone comes from the highly expressive nature of those lyrics, with every verse chosen with care. By going back to the early 2000s a sense of innocence gets tapped into, one that feels doubly refreshing to witness.
Hyperactivity reigns supreme on the bombastic opener “Less Affected”. Drums work overtime with the riffs opting for a commanding presence to them. Far more mysterious “Pacific Stars” defies easy categorization with a surreal aspect to it, one that constantly builds and builds. Elements of the light touch of the Sea and Cake ring throughout the easy-going “Primavera en Vedado”. Catchy to its core “Demerits” keeps things to the essentials. Pieces of dream pop emerge on the gauzy “Falling V”. By far the highlight of the album there is an ebb and flow to the way the groove evolves.
“Llueve” goes for a tropical vibe, with the sun-drenched summery spirit a pure joy to behold. Sheer fury rages through on “10usd” featuring guitar work that has an urgent metallic sheen to it. Drums have a spry tact with “Flies”. A dignified sound the togetherness of the work proves to be its true selling point, as the evolution of the sound embraces a pastoral beauty about it. Balance is of the essence on this yearning work. Serving as a bit of a gentle breeze of a track, full of optimism is the wisp of “A Song About Leaving”. On the reflective side of things comes the finale of “Credit” which has a lightness about it.
Equals Conquest employs a grandeur with the sprawling ambitiousness of “At the Heart of the Empire”.