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Every time it is supposed to be the best album
on 20 September 2014
I have been a fan of Embrace since they came on the scene +15 years ago. They have had many ups and downs. After the third album (not that great) they had to sell musical instruments and LP collections on ebay to survive. Then they released Out of Nothing (excellent album), followed by another less than impressive album.
I was surprised they came back after a 7 years break. I really like the new single Refugees even if it is not my type of music at all: it is also different front the indie rock style that characterised Embrace before - at first I did not even realise it was them! I think this is a positive thing as I cannot stand bands that keep on doing the same stuff over and over again. i believe the semi-techno-electronic influence is due to the parallel career of DJs and producers (I lived in Manchester for a couple of years and Danny had a club - Moho/The Aftershow- and he promoted new bands. He is a very down to earth and approachable guy by the way).
However this album is quite sketchy, it jumps all over the places. It is better than the third album, but somewhat several of songs really do not work. I give it 3 stars as it is funny (in a good way) and unexpected: the falsetto a la BeeGees in Quarters is something that i was not expecting! Overall the lyrics are OK, mostly not amazing or inspiring though. It is not a rubbish album, but it is not better than the The Good Will Out (even if in recent interviews Danny kept on saying Embrace is the best thing they have released. Well, he said the same about every single album after the first!). The problem with Embrace is that they are not very good live: as much as I like Embrace I must admit that Danny does not have a powerful voice live and things have gotten worse. He sings along with Richard now as he is mainly out of tune and the audience can barely hear him. Song list of the album:-
1. Perfection - this sets the electronic tone of the album. An electronic drum and synthesisers are the central part. Still major chorus, but not the old Embrace. A new twist
2. In The End - Is this New Order meets Joy Division?! Some of the riffs are taken directly from the New Order repertoire. The lyrics are weird: jellyfish will multiply when they are under attack just like the bottles in the plastic bags? Not one of my favourite songs on the album.
3. Refugees - amazing new sound for Embrace. This is sort of techno meets electronic and acid rock. Richard's vocals work very well, with Danny coming in at the very end of the song. Brilliant! This one is on ongoing repeat on my ipad/iphone.
4. I Run - Danny Mcnamara at his best when it comes to lyrics. It feels like the result of years of talking therapy, when someone realiases that living with an armour and try to please others is not going to work, being ourselves is much better. This is very "old" Embrace style in terms of music, sort of ballad a "la Fireworks" with powerful chorus. Brilliant!
5. Follow You Home- very catchy and more standard "indie" rock. Danny singing doubles by Richard works, familiar woo woo. Not a grey song, but a good filler.
6. Quarters - another brilliant electronic song. This new direction suits Embrace really well as these songs are the ones that really stand out. The falsetto in the chorus sounds like the BeeGees and works very well. Unexpected song that shows Embrace were not going to play it safe with this album. Really like this one. Also the lyrics work very well.
7. At Once - Delicate riffs that remind me a lot of U2 at the time of The Joshua Tree. This song is more in line with the "classic" Embrace sound. Pleasant, not outstanding.
8. Self Attack Mechanism - This is a song Danny mentioned in his blog post relating to his PSTD a couple of years ago. The lyrics do make sense when reading that post. The music is stomping electronic, probably not the best result of the more techno/house/electronic attempts on this album
9. The Devil Looks After HIs Own - my least favourite song. Really forgettable in terms of sound and lyrics.
10. A Thief on My Island - The initial guitar riff is "I still haven't found what i am looking for" by U2. Not a memorable song - typical filler and a ballad with no punch. I do not like it.