Gomez

Liquid Skin

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In the wake of Brit-pop's unraveling and the legitimization of prog rock by Radiohead and Spiritualized, Gomez was seen as the future of Brit-rock upon their debut. Bring It On was caught between those two poles: traditionalist on one hand, yet striving for a larger goal. Gomez's secondhand appropriations of American music, crossed with ambling arrangements and a hazy atmosphere indigenous to home recordings, won them a larger audience who expected the group's second album, Liquid Skin, to be a great breakthrough. They may be disappointed to find that it's not. Instead, Liquid Skin is a cleaner, more streamlined version of the debut; it's clear that the band made the move from the garage into a professional studio. In doing so, they wound up with a dead ringer for Pearl Jam's No Code, in which America's best traditionalist band of the '90s strove for a glorious, pan-ethnic mess and pretty much succeeded. Liquid Skin doesn't rival No Code, not just because Gomez isn't as passionate, but also because Pearl Jam didn't sound as self-conscious or predictable when they decided to stretch out. Throughout the record, Gomez betrays their age, playing music that they believe to be experimental or rootsy, but not quite going far enough in either direction. This was true of Bring It On as well, but the cleaner sound and improved focus brings these factors to the forefront. And, frankly, that's not such a bad thing, either. In this context, they might not seem as adventurous (and, therefore, important), but they do bring back varying strands in interesting ways. They still seem to be trying too hard, and treading water in doing so. Still, Liquid Skin will satisfy fans of the first record, just as it will undoubtedly frustrate those who didn't get with them the first time.

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