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“empathogen” Album Review

“empathogen”, WILLOW’s sixth album, dropped May 3rd, 2024, featuring jazz and euphoric vocals. This review includes a breakdown of each song’s strengths and standout features.
Photography from WILLOW empathogen cover.
Photography from WILLOW “empathogen” cover.

“empathogen” is WILLOW’s sixth studio album at just 23 years old. With 12 tracks, “empathogen” features jazz-based songs and an incredible rhythm to each song. This album includes contributions from st vincent. and jon batiste. With being a quick album that’s only a little more than a half hour, “empathogen ” doesn’t leave you anticipating more. It leaves you fascinated by the beauty of each song as well as satisfied with the album as a whole.

 

Track 1: “home (feat. jon batiste).” – Track 1 features beautiful piano from the very start and an incredible rhythm throughout the entire song. She starts off the track with a scream as if someone’s waking up and continues to use her impeccable vocals throughout the track. Jon Batiste adds to the song with fun vocals, setting the tone for a terrific album. 

Track 2: “ancient girl.” – Acoustic guitar is heard throughout the song, adding a unique tone to the song considering the other tracks on the album don’t feature a lot of guitar. WILLOW’s vocals are very breathy throughout this song, while at the same time displaying her breath control. A highlight of the song is her storytelling and the way she sounds almost furious. The furious undertones are subtle, but they make it more powerful. 

Track 3: “symptom of life.”-  Track 3 starts off with piano, reminding me of piano heard throughout many of Fiona Apple’s songs. My favorite part of this song is how fast WILLOW sings. Her speed and tempo in this song is perfect while she still manages to hit every single word with diction and clarity. Throughout the song, she switches up from a speedy tempo to a slower tempo, focusing the song back in. 

Track 4: “the fear is not real.” – Again, insanely catchy and showcases her range. It displays so many talents of hers, including yelling, belting, stunning melodies and more. WILLOW also adds lots of overlapping lyrics, which creates a special feel to the track. 

Track 5: “false self.” – This is by far my go-to song on the album. I see it as the song of summer 2024, with its upbeat happiness. Track 5 further displays her wild vocals, going from deep voices to high-pitched yells of joy. When WILLOW says, “I-I wanna crash, feel so attacked. On a mad dash in my own brain. I’m so attached, I’m so detached,” it really is impeccable. Every word is delectable and beautifully sung. 

Track 6: “pain for fun (feat. st vincent).” – This is a sadder song, and that brings back more guitar, like in “ancient girl.” It is a very layered song that switches vibes multiple times throughout. It goes from a softly sung melody to more aggressive singing and guitar, and then back to the melody. Finally, WILLOW incorporates belting notes about. 

Track 7: “no words 1 & 2. – This song starts off with sighing and changes to quick-paced drumming. The song has no words in it, hence the title; “no words 1 & 2.” Suddenly, the drumming stops, and happier piano music plays with WILLOW melodizing in the background. 

Track 8: down.– The way she says “down” is so beautiful because she runs with it and explores different pitches with her voice, showing listeners how versatile she is. 

Track 9: run!– This is a very punky song, reminding me of teenage angst. It is extremely catchy and a fun listen. I love the way she continues. 

Track 10: between i and she.– This track is speedy and thorough with the lyrics. It is packed with many feelings and can be interpreted in many ways, which I love. 

Track 11: “I know that face.” – This is a great song, but somewhat unnecessary, in my opinion. It doesn’t feel unique, unlike the other songs. One thing I do love is how it’s a more relaxed vibe and provides breathing air in the album for people to reflect on the previous songs in the album.

Track 12: b i g f e e l i n g s.– This is a stupendous closing song that is spunky and incredibly difficult to sing from the very beginning. It concludes the album in a fun way and reminds me of summer with the jazzy, whimsical instruments in the background. 

 

Each song in WILLOW’s new album “empathogen” hits without a doubt and provides unique sounds. It is truly a flawless album that has the potential to be the album of the summer.

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About the Contributor
Luca Hinesman
Luca Hinesman, Journalist
Luca Hinesman is currently a Sophomore at Community High School and a believer in buying expensive coffees. When not in CET rehearsals or mock trial practices, you can find them reading books about revenge, catching up on homework, or hanging out with friends. Luca is currently in their first semester with The Communicator and is excited to contribute their ideas this year!

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