Clean-up hits like a lead-off batter

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily Gomez's latest release, "Split the Difference," marks a relative departure from the band's highly-electronic sound.

The British five-piece keyboardist/vocalist Tom Gray, guitarist/vocalist Ben Ottewell, bassist Paul Blackburn, drummer Olly Peacock and Ian Ball recorded the album with Tom Waits producer Tchad Blake. We don’t wanna harm yaWe are not you’re armor

We’re you’re friends The chorus on the album’s second track, “These 3 Sins,” proves a fitting metaphor for those who found the sonic progression of Gomez’s previous releases – toward post-production-oriented realms – disappointing.Alas, the less-affected content of “Split The Difference” suffers where the band’s first record, “Bring It On,” succeeded. Though “Split The Difference” occasionally flirts with blandness, the powerful guitar work and driven rhythms are not in question. The lyrics and traditional harmonies bear more of the blame.Gomez constructed an inspiring reputation in the beginning with their Mercury Prize-winning debut and a sturdy sophomore release in “Liquid Skin.” Their second album showcased a penchant and budding talent for studio artistry in its muscular grunge and faux-blues ballads.Like a sugar substitute, “Sweet Virginia” leaves an acrid hint of a formula-driven attempt of conjuring the same effect Gomez found in “We Haven’t Turned Around.”The album’s following tune, “Catch Me Up,” contains an upbeat energy misplaced into lifeless lyrics found on some of the weaker songs of the band’s B-sides, “Abandoned Shopping Trolley in Picadilly.”

But, the eight track, “Where Ya Going?,” brings the album back to potency within its relatively spare style. The straightforward guitar, bruising rhythms and brute vocals provide a vital alarm clock for the rest of the record.”Meet Me In The City” struts with a bright gait. Its call-and-response between tumbleweed percussion and brash, lustful vocal harmonies lends an interesting and delightful contrast to the power chord-heavy “Chicken Out.””Extra Special Guy” brings out the light-hearted pop in Gomez. At first, it sounds like a slapstick take on some early Beatles tune, but it matures with the bridge:Too much too soonAre you made out of stoneOr are you made out of gold

I’ll be no clearerWhen I’m wrinkled and old “Nothing Is Wrong” is an open-armed acceptance. The introductory riffs reminisce of a highway-ridden ZZ Top song, but the tune evolves into something less barbaric with a melody during the chorus that’s straight Dave Matthews.The album closes with a wistful folk sound in “There It Was.” The song aims at lovely like the third track from “Bring It On,” “Make No Sound,” but the arrangement is almost too spare.”Split The Difference” is by no means a failure, it’s just not as conceptually-promising or sonically-exciting as “In Our Gun.”Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at

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