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coverpic flag England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 22 - 08/08/98

Embrace
The Good Will Out
Virgin Records

Of course I should be reviewing some obscure record by an unknown, experimental band, who have little chance of ever making a career from selling records. That's the pompous me, the "I listened to them before they were famous and they were Much better then" me. But there's no point lying. For me, Embrace have been the best band of the last 12 months, and their debut album is, despite critical indifference I have read elsewhere, astonishingly good.

Embrace are a five piece band from Yorkshire, England. They play anthemic, guitar driven music. The driving force is two brothers, Richard (guitar) and Danny (vocals), who also write the music. They've spent most of the last year telling The Press how good they are, and better than their contemporaries. Basically their profile has been Oasis circa 1994, and to be frank it irritates the hell out of me.

But I can't ignore the music.

They are at their best on the 5 minute, slow ballad, orchestral touches. All You Good Good People, Come Back To What You Know, and Higher Sights are as good as anything from the genre. The genuinely understated ballads are just as good. Lyrically weak on a few songs, but Fireworks more than compensates. It's simply beautiful:

My girl you make all the smart moves
When you see through all my wrongs
When the fireworks in me are all gone
Then I realised
And I won't need convincing
I've seen enough to want to try and change things
You fell in love, I fell in line
I thought I'd found my place
Before I knew how much it cost to play it safe
Have I let you
I'll never let you down.

The only problem is that Embrace are a soul band at heart, but feel obliged to play rock music. Which unquestionably explains why the uptempo songs on the album such as I Want The World and You've Got To Say Yes are so bland. They are sub-Oasis, and just sub-standard. Embrace share The Verve's philosophy of mass music for the common people and I guess that if you hate The Verve's Urban Hymns, there's every chance you'll also hate Embrace. But it works for me, and I think in time history will be kind on their music.

The last song on the album and the title track, The Good Will Out, is a song I have quite inexplicably changed from loathing to loving. The band have described the song as their Karma Police, a description which is just nonsense. It's a progressively loud ballad with a lyric about how everything will all come good in the end. It finishes with a huge "La La La" singalong outro. It is their Hey Jude, their All Around The World, lighters in the air bonanza, and the sane critic in me should despise it without question for sheer tackiness. And I did at first, but hearing it performed at Glastonbury changed my feelings forever. It sent a shiver down me, and genuinely moved me. It's now my favourite song of the year, by a distance. I must be going mad, or just growing old.

Song of the year from the best British band of the year, from possibly the album of the year.

Copyright © 1998 Craig Scrogie e-mail address

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