Fugitive Empire is incredibly prolific. In just three years, That Hope Disappeared amounts to his sixth album. Of course I really wanted this album to be like Blown Right Out Of Sight – an incredibly strong album – but that would be way too easy. Instead, That Hope Disappeared traces the artist back to previous albums of lyrical promise where worlds were stolen and destroyed. Here, there’s a specific addition of drums this time round – something that really, is quite foreign to Fugitive Empire.
Aimed as a release for New Years Day in this most apocalyptic 2012, there is an overall anger that seems to have fuelled it – either with the frustration of a looming deadline or of a life documented. It makes the album an overall, a more interesting listen.
The best example of this is probably The Nothing I Have Found – a decidely gloomy affair (lyrically) – at once angry and disgusted. It’s wiry with dry guitar line beneath pessimistic vocals. Cognitive Dissonance is a fairly strong song, with the addition of an organ; but the poetry within unveils a disatisafction or a disappointment. Yet, it’s an album that covers the lifespan of Fugitive Empire’s songwriting from day uno. On the flipside of the rage, the album makes space for a heartfelt paean to a lost loved one, to death, to a lost life and a missed land that’s narrated so perfectly in the acoustic Eagle On A Pole. This song’s lighter than the rest of the album, despite carrying heavier themes. It’s a lot closer to Bon Iver than he probably wishes. All in all, this is a great album but it feels rushed at times, and perhaps it needs tighter drums – an admittance that a full drum kit is not always needed for his trademark, more folky repertoire.
Nevertheless, standout track Miss December – probably the most gently protest you might hear is the one which sounds like a new progression in Fugitive Empire’s recently more polished sound. The bittersweet, Feist-style introduction betrays the frustrated, anxious lyrics which burst forth as emotionally as Conor Oberst as the acoustic guitar picks up when the man behind FE, Alex Coates, shouts his lyrics out. These vocals shape out a familar role for him, something that his post-rock tendencies seem to invite. A reason why this album’s title track asks all the big questions.
The highlight for me though, was I Shot JR – by far the most interesting song from the whole album. It’s Fugitive Empire at his lyrical, guitar-weilding strongest. Its strength lies in is unassuming quality – as in, it assumes you have no idea how political the song becomes on your first listen – a nice surprise, given the more emotional, more unnerving edge to the whole album.
or download whole album here for free: http://soundcloud.com/fugitive-empire/tracks?page=1