Empath have always dealt in dissonance — both in the literal, harmonic meaning and in a more abstract, aural sense. Their new single, “Elvis Comeback Special,” is built on the jarring juxtaposition of Garrett Koloski’s fast, frenzied drumming and Catherine Elicson’s drifting, languorous vocals. The new track follows “Born 100 Times,” “Diamond Eyelids,” and “Passing Stranger” as the fourth and final single from Visitor, dropping this Friday, February 11, on Fat Possum Records.
In a written statement, Elicson described the process behind this song, which represents a paradoxically hazy moment of clarity:
“Elvis” started as a discarded voice memo. Sometimes I’ll play little guitar parts and melodies into my phone and then not think anything of them until many months later. When I listen back it’s like listening to someone else’s music and I can hear the song more clearly. So I fleshed out all the parts, and when I brought it to the whole band, all these unexpected rhythms and melodies popped out of the song. The song came to life; that’s the most exciting part of collaborating as a band.
The lyrics took me the longest of any song to complete. The morning of the day I was to sing all my vocals in the studio, I was sitting outside a cafe hyped on caffeine and sweatily typing new words into my notes app. The lyrics deal with the feeling of uncertainty in yourself when you’re caught up in someone else’s world and you have to disentangle fantasy and cold reality. Because the song has these sharply rhythmic moments, [Unknown Mortal Orchestra member and Vistor’s producer] Jake [Portrait] suggested I sing the lyrics really lazily as a contrast. The effect, though subtle, added a more compelling vibe to the whole song.
“Elvis Comeback Special” arrives with a music video directed by Halle Ballard, a long-time collaborator and friend of the band who also handled visuals for Visitor’s other three singles. This one is her most ambitious yet, pairing her characteristic VHS-style footage of Empath with pencil sketches of the Philly four-piece
Watch it, and view Empath's upcoming tour dates, below.
Empath tour dates
2/24 - Burlington, VT - Higher Ground Showcase Lounge *
2/25 - Portsmouth, NH - 3S Artspace *
2/26 - Hamden, CT - Space Ballroom *
3/17 - Philadelphia, PA -The Dolphin
4/15 - Pittsburgh, PA - Funhouse
4/16 - Cleveland, OH - Happy Dog
4/17 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
4/19 - Toronto, ON - Monarch
4/20 - Montreal, QC - L'esco
4/21 - Cambridge, MA - Lilypad
4/22 - Brooklyn, NY - TV Eye
4/23 - Washington, DC - Comet
* with Sunflower Bean