7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Embrace return with trademark honest songwriting, improved by bruising personal experience and production craft, 28 April 2014
This is an album Embrace couldn't have written 8 years ago. After Out Of Nothing propelled them into the upper charts with its (mostly) optimistic ballads the forced follow-up with its under-written selection (the repetitive The End Is Near a low point) seemed to spit them out of the industry machine, fragmented and disillusioned.
This album gives a voice to the experiences they've clearly endured, equal parts melancholy, uplifting anthems as you'd expect but infused with electronic production drawing on New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, the buzzsaw post-punk of Joy Division (the riff of Self-Attack Mechanism in particular sounding like 'Dead Souls' played at 100mph) and chiming guitars the Edge would be proud of. A new deal seems to have freed them from throwing mid-tempo rock/ballads out in quick succession and allowed them to channel their influences.
The album centrepiece, though, is the epic closing track Thief On My Island, starting as gently as their classic Drawn From Memory but enhanced with haunting echo effects, lamenting a disintegrating, acid-tainted relationship through several lushly instrumented verses before exploding in an assault on the senses clearly as brutal as its subjects death throes. It's up their with their best.