Entertainment Weekly - 9/29/95, p.63
"Fifteen tracks, split between two genres....There's alternative lite....[and] heartfelt punk-pop....A daring disc with its three unsigned bands." - Rating: B+
Producers: John Hampton, Gin Blossoms (track 1); Stephen Street (track 2); Edwyn Collins (track 3); Matt Wallace (track 4); Gavin Mackillop (track 5); Dennis Herring (track 6); Better Than Ezra (track 7); Michael W. Douglass, Alex Reed (track 8); Don Smith, Cracker (track 9); Gil Norton (track 10); Rick Kerr (track 11); Lou Giordano (track 12); Jerry Harrison (track 13); Bryce Goggin (track 14); Daniel Lanois, Coyote Shivers (track 15).
Engineers: John Hampton (track 1); Edwyn Collins, Sebastian Lewsley (track 3); Tony Phillips (track 4); Chris Fuhrman (track 6); Michael W. Douglass, Alex Reed (track 8); Rich Hasal (track 9); Bradley Cook (track 10); Rick Kerr (track 11); Lou Giordano (track 12); Karl Derfler (track 13); Bryce Goggin (track 14); Robin Aube, Linda Dumoe (track 15).
Proving how cyclical the pop music industry's tastes are, the EMPIRE RECORDS soundtrack is evidence that the airwaves are rediscovering melody, the hummable essence of pop that grunge all but muted. The movie takes place in a record store, and the employees listening choices are the mellifluous gems on the album, each song eschewing guitar pomp for a thoughtful arrangement and a memorable tune.
The Meices crash through their cover of Generation X's "Ready Steady Go," while the Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It From You" embodies the essence of pop-rock: great harmonies, wistful lyrics, chimey guitar sounds (i.e. "the works"). EMPIRE RECORDS travels well through today's varied pop textures, sampling the more accessible sides of alternative rock. The stunning Motown-style sound of Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You" indirectly betrays post-sexual revolution sarcasm ("give me just a little taste so I want more/and now my hands are bleeding and my knees are raw"), over a brooding keyboard fill and reverb-soaked production.
Maybe the EMPIRE SOUNDTRACK addresses the dilemma pointed out on Collins' clever single: "too many pretty singers/not enough pretty songs." The soundtrack does offer nice nuggets of well-written pop songs, proving that you don't have to be a screamer to make some winning tunes.
Audio Mixers: Don Smith ; Edwyn Collins; Gil Norton; Jonnie Most; John Hampton; Lou Giordano; Rick Kerr; Roy Spong; Tom Lord-Alge; Tony Phillips; Bryce Goggin.
The soundtrack to a movie that was barely released, Empire Records is a fine collection of mainstream alternative pop/rock, featuring two hit singles -- the menacing Motown-meets-Bowie pop of Edwyn Collins' "A Girl like You," and the folky "Till I Hear It from You" from The Gin Blossoms. The rest of the album is hit-or-miss -- mostly noticeable for the debut appearance of The Martinis, a new band from former Pixies Joey Santiago and David Lovering -- but it is enjoyable, nevertheless. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine