Empty Beings is a punk rock outfit from Pittsburgh. They released their debut LP Dead and Pathetic in 2019 via Play Alone records, who first took notice of the band’s clever incorporation of melodic post-punk into the structural punk form.
Indeed, Dead and Pathetic feels more refined compared to other punk debuts. Their music feels tightly held together from the first song to the closer, leaving plenty of space for Shani Banerjee’s vocals to shine through on each of these ten tracks. Her and drummer Dave Rosenstraus first formed the band when the latter was in Iceland working on a photography residency. Later adding Nick Leombruno on guitars and Adam Thomas on bass to round out the four-piece. It took five years for this first LP, but the patience was all worth it.
This collection of talent has landed on a sound that uses punk and post-punk with plenty of melodic hooks and pop sensibilities. It’s a style that puts Banerjee’s songwriting and vocals to the spotlight, which is wholly supported by the instrumentation. As a result their sound can go to dynamic routes, with a distinct voice that’s both alluring and provocative.
Empty Beings has plenty of swagger and groove. Their songs are much more familiar in structure while still wholly encapsulating the loud rebellious urgency of punk. Opener “Blameless” feels spiteful with its brooding guitars and rhythm section. A combination that is topped off by Banerjee’s vocals that somehow evoke a velvety yet venomous quality. Follow up “Growing Boys” follows with an uptempo pace and a strong mocking attitude. Each part feels full of drive and muscle, with a yelled hook that’s the piece de resistance: “You never got me off!”
Other highlights include the spellbinding “Hex”, where the tempo takes on a rumbling hardcore romp. Banerjee’s use of clever wordplay is on full display here, turning the whole song into a vexing incantation. “In Between” is where the guitars flex their muscles. An angular tapestry of sharp riffs overlaid by an unrelenting rhythm section makes this song a worthy battle anthem when everything is on the line. The album ends with “Adore”, a love song with plenty of bite. It talks of an unyielding love while packing quite the punch with its fiery breakdowns and unflinching attitude.
Dead & Pathetic has everything you can ask for from a debut release. Introducing Empty Beings as a punk band with their own distinct sound, a great chemistry and refined songwriting right out of the gate.