Transient neural assemblies mediated by synchrony in particular frequency ranges are thought to underlie cognition. We propose a new approach to their detection, using empirical mode decomposition (EMD), a data-driven approach removing the need for arbitrary bandpass filter cut-offs. Phase locking is sought between modes. We explore the features of EMD, including making a quantitative assessment of its ability to preserve phase content of signals, and proceed to develop a statistical framework with which to assess synchrony episodes. Furthermore, we propose a new approach to ensure signal decomposition using EMD. We adapt the Hilbert spectrum to a time-frequency representation of phase locking and are able to locate synchrony successfully in time and frequency between synthetic signals reminiscent of EEG. We compare our approach, which we call EMD phase locking analysis (EMDPL) with existing methods and show it to offer improved time-frequency localisation of synchrony.