The Philadelphia quartet’s opaque blend of noise pop can be difficult to pin down; it constantly swells and disintegrates in accordance with its own biorhythms. Hooks materialize from a smokey haze, melodies roam autonomously, and beauty rises from the ruins. On “Roses That Cry,” the latest single off their forthcoming debut Active Listening: Night on Earth, Empath meld these pieces together into a magnificent—and unexpectedly moving—triumph.
After a brief, delicate synth intro, “Roses That Cry” launches into a kaleidoscopic squall. Catherine Elicson’s guitar sounds as if it is breaking into pieces, Garrett Koloski’s drums whip up a ferocious gale, and Em Shanahan and Randal Coon’s synths swirl and squawk in the undertow, bringing a generous levity. Elicson’s words echo the jumbled progression of this turmoil as she conjures fading memories. “Are you coming around/You’d like to, but you don’t know how,” Elicson nudges, her voice gently bending with compassion. “Remember when that tree fell on your car/Glass spilled all over the yard.” When the dust finally settles on “Roses That Cry,” Empath emerge unscathed.