Gomez

A New Tide

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AllMusic Review by

The punters -- and critics -- should get over it: Gomez will more than likely never again be the loud and proud, wildly distorted experimentalists of their 1998 Mercury prize-winning debut album, Bring It On. All those years and (six) albums have molded this quintet into a band of sharp songwriters who've chosen to write in more conventional rock song forms and polish their sound. Consequently, while the British critics and fans that once lauded them have since written the band off as a "sell out" whatever that means, American audiences and radio have embraced them. While this music isn't immediately challenging on the surface, there's a lot here, far more than reveals itself in a casual listen. From the jump, Gomez was deeply influenced by heavy songwriting acts like the Band, as well as Tom Waits and the best of the post-punk groups. The ability to hone a song lyrically and produce it in such a manner that it extends both the song and the listener is no mean trick. Produced by Brian Deck, A New Tide isn't so much a departure of the band's last ATO album, How We Operate, as it is a deepening of the vein that inspired those songs, and a much more experimental way of creating in the studio. Beautiful pop hooks at the end of "If I Ask You Nicely" spread the upright bass and organ's lyrical frame which commences the tune, offering listeners a seamless pop song that is as sophisticated as it is catchy. It is balanced by the echo-laden layers of National Steel guitars and cello that introduce "Win Park Slope," a place where the blues meet shakers, piano, and other strings and loops in a gorgeous, languid, and nocturnal love song where all is not as it appears. "Natural Reaction," with its beautiful three-part harmonies and mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars is an accessible, yet intimate and very complex structure for an Americana-flavored pop song. "Very Strange" goes back and forth between a country, cut time love song and a bony rocker. The dynamics shift, textures stretch the melodic frame to the limit but never abandon it. A New Tide is an extremely consistent, drenched-in-sonic-pleasure listening experience. These men are all relatively young and have become such confident songwriters and recording artists, it's a wonder they don't top the charts here: they sound unlike anyone else and need no bombast or hype-drenched press releases or magazine articles to create a buzz around them. Gomez simply do what they do, quietly sharpening, expanding, and refining the craft of writing and recording great songs and great albums. This is an excellent next step.

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