Posted on January 27th, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Magdalene Taylor

Swanky Tiger is stepping out as the modern incarnate of the classic hard rock incarnate of decades past with their debut album, Empires. The NYC-based group have forged a sound that is full of hooks and pop sensibility while maintaining a commendable sharpness and precision. Swanky Tiger fits well alongside fellow hard rock group Royal Blood -- a
cited influence on the band -- but with a stronger element of soft vocal coolness. All the obvious markings of success are there for Empires, but there seems to be some element of catchiness that’s missing.

There is a clear skill and musicianship to Swanky Tiger. The guitar stands out the most throughout Empires, but the bass and drums are unmistakably good when given their moments. The album has its moments of ambient audio effects or rhythmic softness, but for the most part is an enjoyable constant hard rock hit in the face. The first track, “With the Lights Out” is a pretty accurate summary of the rest of the album, featuring a spooky dissonant violin intro before pumping into high energy melodic flashiness. Alongside the instrumental precision is a distinct emphasis on structure and timing. In fact, the structure and timing of “With the Lights Out” is such that you could probably even waltz to it.

For better or for worse, the rest of the album maintains much of the same. The hooky, loud electric guitar never ceases (songs like “Empires”) except for in a few cases which by nature stand out. Of these moments includes “Drag Me Down,” which instead uses an acoustic, catchy sound while holding on to Swanky Tiger’s dedication to precision and rhythm. Though this song, too, becomes much of the same hard rock, the rhythm is still such that the song remains on the mind in the midst of the remainder of the album.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of Empires is rather forgettable. The quality of their sound is consistently good, but the details of the sounds themselves just doesn’t stick. For one, there’s a bit of an off quality to the vocals, potentially as a result of the way they were recorded. But still, there is a consistent tone of moody coolness that Swanky Tiger could (should) move away from. Empires does an excellent job of highlighting Swanky Tiger's hard rock skill, but has some things holding it back.

Track List

  1. ”With the Lights On”
  2. ”Half Light”
  3. ”Empires”
  4. ”Drag Me Down”
  5. ”Metamorphosize”
  6. ”Glamorous”
  7. ”If Life Is But A Dream”
  8. ”Bad Operator”
  9. ”Won’t Be Home Tonight”
  10. ”Nightingale”
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

63 / 100
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