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April 27, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Gomez – A New Tide (Shock)

The inside cover of English indie rockers Gomez’ sixth studio album, A New Tide, shows the band gathered around a table at a diner. Four of them are laughing into the camera; they look like easygoing guys, the kind you’d meet at a gig and have a drink with while you cracked jokes together about the terrible opening act. Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboard), however, stares into the distance, looking decidedly gloomy as he brings a mug of coffee to his lips. This image is oddly representative of A New Tide. Like the smiling band members, it’s engaging and optimistic, and certainly worthy of 43.6 minutes of your time, but—as Gray here seems to be aware of—not something you’d make the effort to revisit in the future, as none of the tracks on it come anywhere near equalling Gomez’ earlier work in terms of catchiness or originality.

The opening track, ‘Mix’ is all clunky chords and spindly riffs; it’s a pleasant tune, but an incongruous opener, as ‘Little Pieces’, with its José González-esque intro and stadium-rock chorus, has far more punch. Unlike parts of A New Tide, ‘Little Pieces’ is recognisable as a Gomez track, due to the growling vocals of Ben Ottewell, the most distinctive of the band’s three vocalists. The voice of Mr. Melancholy himself, Tom Gray, makes less of an impact, but lends itself nicely to ‘If I Ask You Nicely’, a quirky highlight; a nimble string bass, a swirling organ motif, handclaps and sunny harmonies create an upbeat, sing-a-long number. ‘Win Park Slope’ and ‘Airstream Driver’ hark at Gomez’ blues roots, while ‘Bone Tired’ sees Ottewell at his most vulnerable and reflective.

Though A New Tide has its moments of charm, none are as infectious as ‘Girlshapedlovedrug’, or as powerful as ‘We Haven’t Turned Around’. Gomez appears to be unsure of whether they’re aiming for gritty alt-rock or polished pop, and this split personality is to their detriment; on this album alone, their sound swings wildly from The Band to David Gray. While their 1998 debut Bring It On won the Mercury Music Prize, it’s unlikely Gomez will repeat their success in this year’s competition, as Tom Gray seems to be well aware of from his pictured despondency. One wonders how long it will take his band of merry men to wake up and smell the coffee.


About the Author ()

Elle started out at Salient reviewing music. In 2010, she wrote features and Animal of The Week, which an informal poll revealed to be 40% of Victoria students' favourite part of the magazine. Alongside Uther Dean, she was co-editor for 2011. In 2012, she is chief features writer.

Comments (2)

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  1. Alex says:

    well, I actually really like this album.
    sure, it isn’t as catchy or distinctive as their older stuff, but it’s a good record.
    there’s good stuff going on in there.

  2. Dan says:

    I actually prefer the later Gomez stuff over the earlier stuff. I absolutely love this latest album of theirs, perhaps because I was travelling around California when I first listened to it. Maybe? Who knows? It’s still a cracking album though and deserves a better write up in my humble opinion.

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