Plumbiferous Media

A New Tide – Gomez

Apr 5th 2009
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A New Tide - GomezGomez
A New Tide
Score: 60

After five well-received albums, including two platinum albums and one silver, Gomez has just released their newest album, A New Tide, which remains faithful to its light alt-rock roots and makes their popularity easy to understand – without being especially notable in and of itself.

On A New Tide, Gomez uses its trifecta of vocalists well, and it’s obvious that they’ve considered the contrast between the lilting, typical-rock vocals of Ian Ball and Tom Gray and the richer, if somewhat hoarse vocals of Ben Ottewell.

While it is true that some of the earlier tracks, especially those sung by Ball, are slightly lacking in emotional impact, they’re still solid tracks, and Ottewell makes up for these issues on his tracks, beginning with the well-composed “Little Pieces.” And though the tracks sung by Ottewell are easily the best, none of the three are slacking vocally on A New Tide, and Gomez has done well in varying them to keep the album interesting – it’s quite possible that Ottewell’s voice wouldn’t be quite as vivid after eleven tracks.

However well the vocals may work, they are not without flaws. For example, in “Bone Tired,” the rather electronic sounds meet rather folkish vocals, which suffer greatly for the buzzing, synth-heavy instrumentals. In fact, Gomez most often has issues when it uses effects it clearly has no need for, such as the odd, echoing “Yeah!” on “Airstream Driver,” which is accompanied by over-processed vocals.

Gomez’s knack for creating vivid imagery is immediately clear on the opening track of A New Tide, as it paints a picture of “bloodshot eyes on factory floors/filling up little bottles.” Nevertheless, the lyrics of A New Tide follow much the same pattern as the vocals – generally middling quality with some gems. “Mix,” “If I Ask You Nicely,” and “Airstream Driver,” though, are lyrically the best points of the album. “Airstream Driver” in particular shows the degree to which Gomez can take seemingly nonsensical lyrics such as “Your watermelon candy mouth/The penthouse at the sands” and make them into a solid backing for a track. However, later tracks such as “Win Park Slope” have equally perplexing lyrics such as “New York City I know/Don’t pick up the phone,” which simply don’t work and leave the track lacking. Luckily, the final track of A New Tide, “Sunset Gates,” is a return to the same lyrical strength of the opening track, as Ottewell sings of “arms wide open/And eyes closed.”

The non-vocal part of A New Tide is split into the acoustic, and the heavily distorted/synthesized, and Gomez is clearly better at the former. While the drums are often separated from the rest of the music, and are mixed loudly, making the separation all the more apparent, Gomez’s strengths are apparent in the twangy, multifaceted guitar lines of tracks like “Mix,” as well as the beautiful string bass of “If I Ask You Nicely” (in which the drums actually remain connected to the rest of the track), and “Sunset Gates.” Unfortunately, while some effects, such as on the guitar in “Little Pieces” are pulled off moderately well, Gomez simply does not know how to manage greater amounts of electronic or digitally altered sound, and tracks like “Bone Tired” and “Win Park Slope” fall apart as a result.

One of the larger problems with A New Tide is that Gomez finds something it likes, and sticks with it for nearly the entire album. In one particularly apparent example, a vastly overinflated portion of the tracks follow the “play two fairly contrasting sections in a single track” pattern. And while this might have saved “Very Strange” from complete disaster, it certainly gets old very quickly when so many tracks all follow the same rule.

It is almost wondrous how an album can include so many sections that make you think, “that was incredibly weird, but very well done” – the 2:40 mark of “Natural Reaction” and the album’s final minute are prime examples – and yet also contain so many miserably executed elements, but Gomez has managed to pull it off. In short, A New Tide is a mediocre album riddled with promise.

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