Review this album
May 16, 2014Eight years, one month and one day.
That's how long it's been since Embrace last released an LP and having spent the last few days listening to their self titled offering I believe it has been absolutely worth the wait.
Over the last six months the internet and social media sites have played host to the news of teaser trailers, white aliens and secret gigs. More recently we have had an intimate Scottish tour and heard a sample of what's to come with the anthemic "Refugees" and "Follow You Home" being released as an EP and Single respectively. This pre-release hype was certainly well crafted and these ten tracks deserved every second of that measured and determined build up.
Initially it might be easy to suggest this sounds like a less familiar or darker embrace, a band heading in a different direction. Having now listened to the album from start to finish I think the answer is far more straightforward and what we have is a band who after equal amounts of soul searching, dedication and hard work have found the exact path they had been aiming towards all along.
This time they cemented it.
From the word go tracks like "Protection" and "In The End" introduce us to layered synths and persuasive electro drum beats and whilst some of this might feel new the poetic, sometimes melancholic, lyrics fuelled by potent bass riffs and swirling guitars confirm that we are never too far away from a band that was very easy to fall in love with. For me, to simply recreate their previous works or to stick with a proven template may have been too easy and I certainly don't think this would have sounded so fresh and relevant as it does.
Songs like "I Run" and "At Once" show that softer side that has always existed and still manages to ramp things up whilst "Quarters" and "Self Attack Mechanism" show how the band have grown over the last eight years and provide the heavier edge that was evident in each of their previous five albums. We get a chance to take a breath with "The Devil Looks After His Own" which I am sure will be another huge live favourite before "Thief On My Island" lulls us into a false sense of security with a haunting build up and then just properly lets go. If there was ever a way to close an album this was it, you feel exhausted and elation at the same time as the last crash of drums and squeal of guitars fade out.
This is still the band I heard in 1997, still beautifully crafted tracks, songs that can uplift you, knock you off your feet and bring you to the brink of tears. This is an album full of lyrics that will resonate with anyone who has felt heartbreak or exhilaration, lyrics that will be posted on Facebook walls for years to come and choruses that deserve to fill stadiums and be heard by thousands.
One of the most perfect albums I have heard in the last 20 years and if the recent B-Sides are anything to go by then I have no fear for the future.
If you can listen to these ten tracks without playing invisible drums, punching the air or getting a rush of goosebumps then maybe you need to double check your soul is still intact.
If you don't get this then maybe you're just broken.… Collapse