It's been a very well documented 8 years from their last release until this one, did they make the wait worthwhile?
Stupid question really - the new self titled album is a triumph of the highest order with the vast majority of the album simply stunning.
The first 5 tracks are worth 4 stars on their own. Opener Protection is a broody classic already, and used by the band to open their warm up tour dates a couple of months ago. In The End has more than a nod and a wink at New Order but with classic euphoric sing along choruses - the Embrace trademark. The singles that most folk know, Refugees and Follow You Home (both great, both a wee bit different to what you expect from Embrace in very different ways), are separated by I Run which for me is the stand out track on the album. A heart breaking ballad that grows and grows, pulling at the heart strings while implanting an ear worm to ensure it haunts you and delights you in equal measures. It is up there already with the best songs Embrace have ever produced and is actually worth the money for the album on it's own.
For me Quarters is the only misstep on the album but only because of the vocal style of the chorus which is far too Bee Gees for my taste but the rest of the song is solid enough. At Once gets us back into true Embrace territory with a strong ballad with sing out loud chorus - the Embrace trademark and something they do better than anyone else. Self Attack Mechanism sees a harder faster edge while The Devil Looks After His Own is another strong typical Embrace song that would stand out on other albums but only suffers slightly here due to the esteemed company it is keeping.
A Thief On My Island is a stunning finale which in turn makes it a fitting one too. A moody, pulsating beast that growls and grows until we get to a crushing crescendo to bring and end to the proceedings. As suitable closing to the album as Protection is an opening.
If you are unfamiliar with Embrace (?!) then this is as good a place to start as it is easily up there with their best work, if not actually their best (some statement given just how great debut The Good Will Out is). If you like Embrace this will reignite your feelings for their music. If you love Embrace, simply celebrate that they are back. And boy, are they back and then some!
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