Embrace 'The Good Will Out' - Review By Robert Porter
First let us categorize this record in order to satisfy those who buy their music by genre: Corporate Rock. Or so they'd have us believe. When the gentlemen of the press mention this record or Embrace in general the words are seldom free of a snobbish sneer and rather unfair comparisons with mightier, altogether different bands such as Radiohead or The Manics. Clumped together with OCS, Oasis and The Seahorses as mainstream indie music for the masses where a deep thought is something of which to be very afraid, Embrace are unfairly pilloried. Whilst they certainly don't challenge and provoke like Radiohead or expose humanity for the primitive sludge it often is as the Manics used to, they have a way with melody and a musical beauty more akin to that of Michael Head.
Ambitious and conceited, the hour long monster that is "The Good Will Out", Embrace's debut, rocks and sways with equal measure, sounding as confident and polished as 10 year veterans of the music business. Whilst there are several Oasis style rock belters included amongst them such as "The Last Gas", "I Want The World" and "You've Got To Say Yes", the overall mood amongst the 14 tracks is a gentle one. Not that there's any lack of passion or emotion, witness the tail end of "Retread", the album's standout track, as Danny McNamara pleads with an old flame to stay and fight for their relationship. Equally so the Pixies influenced unstoppable bassline of "One Big Family", the forgotten first single of more than a year ago.
If one song has put Embrace on the map and been the main fuel in the fire of all the Oasis / Verve comparisons, it has to be "All You Good Good People". The epic scale and simple, yet effective electric guitar perfected by Noel Gallacher is allied here to the musical variations but equally well maintained melody of The Verve. Whilst Oasis have a rather unpleasant tendency to vere off towards the comedy circus Beatles music of tracks such as "Digsy's Dinner" and "She's Electric" and The Verve tread the psychedelic world of "Neon Wilderness" and "Life's An Ocean" far too often, Embrace have no such problems of indiscipline.
Above all they want to make beautiful music, and they succeed spectacularly. The string drenched pearls of the two singles "Fireworks" and "My Weakness Is None Of Your Business" are joined here by the equally moving last trio of songs closing with the epic title track. Love and regret are the primary emotions expressed on "That's All Changed Forever" and "Now You're Nobody" where graceful piano led love paeans mix with majestic horns and bells as Danny promises he is a changed man. The sheer belief and confidence of Danny's delivery and the band's playing actually makes the rather amateurish philosophy of "There's gotta be something worth having, worth all this" sound genuinely moving.
At least half of the tracks here are infinitely more beautiful than anything Oasis and the rest will ever manage and are an even match for The Verve's better moments. Only on the straight up rock 'n' roll tracks do Embrace dip below mesmerizing. An unconditionally touching and inspiring record then, deserving of far more credit than it has so far been given.
"Will you fight?"