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Music Review: Gomez – A New Tide

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A New Tide, the latest album from UK Indie band Gomez, comes at you with all the freshness of its title. Crashing on this particular beach we have splashes of psychedelia, a tinge of blues, country rock, and roller coaster waves containing a typical mixture of elements.

It is this diversity that led to their brilliant 1998 debut, Bring It On, winning the Mercury Prize. The only thing left to surprise us about the collective talent within Gomez is that, despite their bright start, and some equally impressive albums over the years, they seemed to have just slipped off the radar of late.

They remain a band that many expect great things from, however, but such a self built pedigree can often be a heavy weight to carry. Having said that, they are back and on the evidence of A New Tide the geographical distances that now separate the lads from Southport has had little, if any, effect at all.

With this album, Gomez happily brush aside some of the uncertainty regarding their continuing relevance and serve up a rich tapestry that includes some trademark experimental moments. In doing so, they underline just why their music can be so invigorating.

Blandness is a word that isn’t allowed breathing space in any Gomez studio. You simply cannot double guess what is coming next.

They have never towed a predictable path and have instead followed their bravely diverse instincts. These instincts are clearly still working as well as ever and their breadth of material often intrigues. This makes any Gomez album an adventure, a fairground ride through everything from the tunnel of love, to a wild roller coaster, and just about everything in between.

Sure, the old country rock roots influence is alive and well and this is to the fore from the off. “Mix”, written by Ian Ball, is an excellent start, a difficult track to progress beyond and instantly demands several plays. This is the essence of Gomez captured in one track. A simple folk acoustic strum gives way to a psychedelic wah, which in turn builds ‘grungingly’ higher. It’s unpredictable, interesting, and compellingly them.

“Little Pieces”, written by Ben Ottewell, smoothly follows with a nicely picked opening which again builds towards a memorable chorus. “If I Ask You Nicely” is the first, and last, writing contribution from Tom Gray. It breezes through with an eccentrically catchy vibe.

Ottewell’s excellent “Lost Track” picks up on the earlier atmosphere adding cello amid mild, reflective lyrics. “Win Park Slope” is a radiant dreamscape coloured beautifully by the addition of Amy Milan’s haunting vocals. A contender for album highlight “Bone Tired” has so much atmospherics going on within it that it is a joy to play time and again.

The single “Airstream Driver” picks up the tempo with a fuzzy hook that will capture the hearts and minds of any Gomez fan. Once again, they defy any attempts to pigeon hole, to categorize, and, of course, they are all the stronger for it.

Suffice it to say that the best way to approach the album is to anticipate a delightfully unexpected twist here and there. The result is a compulsive ride that closely rivals anything previously done by the band and has many earthy gems to enjoy.

“Natural Reaction” is one of those jewels. Set as if in the shadow of Golden Gate Park, it’s a brief reminder of a past generation that sits amid delightfully quirky diversions. This track just glows, and is more California than Southport, for sure.

It is smoothly followed by the gently addictive hook that is “Very Strange”, and the moving ballad, “Other Plans”. “Sunset Gates” is the aptly named closing track that successfully ends an album with few weaknesses.

The band’s strength has always been their freewheeling experimentation. With music flowing from three different sources within the band they have once again conjured up a highly satisfying musical journey. A New Tide is an album that will plant itself into your mind, take root, and slowly grow.

It provides a fitting tenth anniversary to their award winning debut, Bring It On. And Bring It On is exactly what they have done with this one.

Catch up with reaction to the album and visit the band on their MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins