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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