I'll be the first to admit that Lycia is not everyone's cup of tea. They have a definite song and production style and they stick pretty steadily to it. Those familiar with the work of Jesus & Mary Chain will know what I'm talking about here. Even when I first heard them, I was less than impressed. Awash in reverb and often-indecipherable whispered vocals, their songs seemed to simply melt into a homogenous sound with one track indistinguishable from the next.
It wasn't until I listened further that I realized that, despite their ambient and ethereal feel, these were not songs you could just simply gloss over. That their attraction lay in the intricate details of the song. Like a fine wine, where you need to appreciate not just the grapes, but the undertones brought about by the soil and the climate in which they were grown, and the barrels in which they were stored. This was mature, rich music, not for the cheap drunks.
In an odd turn, it's the sparing use of these subtleties that makes "Empty Space" such a great album, especially for those just getting into the band. Though only recently released, "Empty Space" was actually recorded back in 1999, shortly before the band broke up and, because of such, it lay incomplete until Silber Records picked it up, dusted it off, and released it in late 2003. Since the album is, in fact, unfinished, it has a certain raw power that I was pleasantly suprised by.
It's also far more pop-oriented than their previous works. The melodies and hooks are pushed to the front, portending a direction I would have really enjoyed seeing the band explore further. But, it's also feels very unfinished at times with occasionally meager production values making it come across as a dark 80's garage band, lacking the glimmering sheen of previous works. In many ways, I think this gives the album a certain endearing charm, but others might be less sympathetic.
When it comes down to it, I'm ecstatic that this album was given a chance to see the light of day. Fans of Lycia will love the chance to savor one more album from them and it's also an excellent entrance point for newcomers to discover what they were missing out on. Thank you Silber Records!