Lost somewhere between the paved highways of modern rock radio and the scruff byways of indie folk, Gomez’s A New Tide is unlikely to find great success in either, its edges too clean and its mainstream bids not quite soulless enough. The album is defined by a struggle between the creative impulses and an inclination toward lockstep MOR formality. In this atmosphere, initially alluring moments almost always fail to redeem their initial promise, given a few bars of breathing room snapping quickly back into line. There are songs that manage to reconcile these two sensibilities, like “If You Ask Nicely,” which segues its cool organ and stand-up bass intro into a snappy piece full of xylophone and sunny chants. Tracks like “Little Pieces,” however, are more frequent, where a promising guitar motif is repeated but never integrated into the fabric of the song, which stretches its choruses into depressing attempts at meaty gravitas. At times Gomez lapses into the safety of ‘90s-inflected alt-rock structures, turning up the volume and tempo and gliding into spotless choruses where all traces of the band’s sound disappear, at worst morphing into a haunting avatar of “alternative” shills like Live and Vertical Horizon. “Bone Tired” pounds blues into gooey pabulum, coloring it with shuffling electronic flourishes and cheesy effects. This is a place the album finds itself much too often, attempting to create mockups of already tired indie blues constructs and failing even at that. New Tide continues Gomez’s struggle to accurately identify its sound after the initial boon of 1998’s Mercury Prize, further wedging them into a narrow void between two unbecoming styles.
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