It’s tough being Gomez. Last year the British press labelled the band the saviors of British rock, then turned around and called Beta Band the same thing. One could almost forgive Gomez for getting overwhelmed by the hype and the award wins and nominations and stinking it up on its sophomore effort. But they don’t. Sure, the boys picked up a few new studio tricks or two and rounded out their sound with fuller textures and better-produced mixes, but the back-to-the-country-sounding songs with a trippy vibe, flying in the face of Britpop’s slickness, are just as good as ever.
Heavily indebted to The Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival and even The Verve, the vocals on Liquid Skin betrays the obvious imprint of many repeated listenings of John Fogerty singing “Suzy Q.” Meanwhile, the band broadens their instrumentation, while managing to pull British rock back to a rusticism it hasn’t heard since the days of Ronnie Lane.
Sarah Sharpe’s #1 pick
This album hooked me from the first listen, and I still smile with uncontrollable delight every time I push play and the sounds of “Hangover” begin. Guitar lines mingling muddy blankets of sound with quiet acoustic melodies are backed by percussive rhythms that drive the tunes. Ben Ottewell’s deep and gravelly voice carries the weighty stoicism of blues’ best yowlers, but it’s the harmonies that wind their way into my unconscious. From the restrained and bitter “Rosalita” to the raucous fun of “Bring It On,” Gomez’s craggy rock is under my skin.
Steve Lichtenstein’s #4 pick
If ever a modern band sounded like it was playing a tribute album of original songs, it’s Gomez. Drawing from unspecific American rock and blues influences, these Brits have banged out a stellar album for the second year in a row. Liquid Skin is full of illusions to music you like, and creates its own of some you will. You’ll swear you’ve heard “Devil Will Ride” before, but nothing is quite as solid. The real prize here is “Revolutionary Kind,” with its contagious riff and electronica skewing lyrics. Gomez are here to stay, in or out of the face of other worthy U.K. competition, and they’re gonna do it their way, with supremely constructed everyman rock sensibility. Thank God.