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| Highest Rated 2006
Gomez: In Our Gun
Posted: April 14,
Gomez, like the Band in its heyday, is a quintet with three lead singers,
and both groups share a fascination with American culture and history. But
aside from these obvious, superficial coincidences, a more essential
characteristic binds the two outfits: Music with deep roots, tying the band
members to something older and wiser than current pop trends, a shared
heritage that predates recorded sound.
Hailing from Southport (near Manchester, England), Gomez broke onto the
UK scene in 1998 with the Mercury Music Prize-winning Bring It On.
Bluesy, jam-oriented and incredibly loose, Bring It On was a solid,
if not overawing debut. Defusing the pressure for a follow-up by coming out
with Liquid Skin the very next year, Gomez produced a basic reworking
of Bring It On, as rendered in a professional studio. The demo
quality of the original had been refined and sharpened. The unwieldy jams
curtailed in favor of tighter arrangements and improved songcraft. And, unlike the Band, which seemed to retreat from its success and
expanding fan base (subsequently putting out less effective material as a
result) Gomez appears to be gaining steam with each new offering.
In Our Gun follows the basic setup of the first two albums, with
guitarist Ben Ottewell, keyboardist/guitarist Tom Gray, and multi-instrumentalist Ian
Ball trading off vocal duties, while drummer Olly Peacock and
bassist Paul Blackburn assist with background harmonies. The main difference
between In Our Gun and the first two efforts is the expanded melodic
scope. The bluesy foundation remains, but it's been complimented by
cleverly mixed electronica elements (especially effective on "Army Dub"),
reoccurring saxophone (most prominent on the buoyant "Detroit Swing 66"),
and rich acoustic balladry ("In Our Gun," "Sound of Sounds").
The title track, inspired by George W. Bush's victory in the contested
2000 presidential election (and the future implications his rise to power
portends), starts off with a placid, acoustic structure,
breaking down in the final two minutes to explode into a skittering,
bass-powered mini-jam that perfectly captures the sense of unease and
frustration felt during that controversial transfer of power. Concern for
such worldly affairs gestures toward a more pronounced global consciousness on
Gomez's part, which appears to have influenced the band's broadening sound
The drippy bedtime story "1,000 Times" is In Our Gun's lone
dispensable track, serving up an undeniably pretty but ineffectual
number that adds little to the rest of the record.
Thematically, a sense of cynical pacifism runs through In Our Gun:
The title track, the desperate "Even Song" and the nervy "Ping One Down"
echo the uncertain times affecting us all. Yet violence is clearly not the
answer, although each song offers tempered optimism that those in power will
ever resort to anything less brutish when respective crises come to a head.
Fortunately, the music manages to evoke a palatable sense of dread without
sinking into utter doom and gloom despair, opting instead for a cathartic
reassurance that becomes more pronounced with each listen.
The Band (especially on its first three albums) managed to make music
that was both timely and timeless. With In Our Gun, Gomez pulls off
the same feat. The album reflects the anxious world of today, but speaks to
a general condition of barbarism that has plagued humankind since
civilization began. Not content to be merely a derivative
Americana-infatuated faux-blues outfit, the group has matured, learning how
to push the experimental envelope while wisely staying in touch with its
warmly humanistic and notably borderless musical heritage.
Fans craving a more offbeat Gomez should check out the
intriguing odds and sods collection Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline.
Be on the lookout for select copies that came bundled with the Machismo
EP, a direct precursor to the more eclectic sound found on In Our
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