Gomez - How We Operate
It seems like a long time has passed since Gomez entered our lives with they're unique blend of blues, jazz and rock back in 1998. After winning the Mercury Music Prize with their debut they've been cursed by it; unable to recapture the joyous feel of that record and the lacklustre In Our Gun and last years poorly received live album which led to Virgin dropping them seemed to signal the end. However, they've returned with renewed vigour.
That debut album will always hang over them. Paired with producer Gil Norton who's worked with the Pixies, Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World to name a few, he has more of a rock background and you can certainly here his influence here. Gone are the more meandering tracks of old; things sound tight and focused, in an almost polished manner. But, as the old saying goes, "You can't polish a turd", the songs themselves are more mature, more structured than previous offerings. It appears as though they're more confident in what they're doing and after gaining the Mercury Prize, being labelled as the "next big-thing" and previously on a record label that favoured record sales over music, they're more relaxed.
Ben Ottewell's voice is still one of the most unique and impressive voices in British music; his ability to growl the lyrics at you and when paired with Tom Gray's more gentle approach it creates an almost ying and yang delivery, soothing and unsettling in equal measures.
Unfortunately, the record isn't consistently great and the quality control seems to have dipped on songs like Woman! Man! which is, honestly, a little embarrassing, and the new single Girlshapedlovedrug is a generic indie by numbers song that could have been written by any band in Britain in the past 10 years. However, the highlights on the record are really good. Album opener Notice is a beautiful twisted ballad with a sparse arrangement and the opening line of "I stopped writing the things I liked and started going back to where I'd been before" and the refrain of "You never notice" maybe aimed at a lady friend, but it seemingly echoes their musical development and new approach with this record. Charley Patton Songs is another highlight, harking back to their debut album, delicately infused influences with guitars and Hammond organ just out in the distance.
The curse of the Mercury Music Prize might not be entirely lifted then, but there's a good chance the last remnants of it are being shaken off. This record hints that there is still a place for Gomez and we shouldn't give up on them just yet.