"Yeah, but can you dance to it?" Shouts my younger brother as I sit attentively, ears wreathed in concentration, trying amazingly hard to enjoy Embrace's new album. The short, sharp and swift answer is; No you cannot dance to it. However, the 10 ethereal tracks on offer from this latest release have left me feeling jolly good about myself. With some glorious moments of gospel choir and lullaby-esque piano lines, Embrace show they are still able to create their trademark, vibrant, optimistic sound.
Wrapped in lush string arrangements and mainly comprised of piano-led power ballads, there is a definitive rousing ambience that pervades 'Out of Nothing', even if the one-paced demeanour of the album becomes slightly overbearing at times. Dreamy, sweetly contrived melodies and rich, simple harmony helps to achieve a lot in the way of atmosphere, but there is little in the way of rhythm. This I do not like. It gives the sense that each song just plods along nicely without ever getting anywhere. But the reliance on texture, depth and feeling is what Embrace are all about, and they do it with a heartfelt passion that deserves some respect, if not recognition.
There is a problem with this album though. Whilst it will undoubtedly appeal to certain people, namely hardcore fans, I'm not sure it will provide all that a fabulous base to start an imminent comeback. Embrace aren't re-inventing themselves, but they don't seem to have returned to their glory days either. The fact that the first single 'Gravity', which is probably the best song on the album save 'Someday', is a Coldplay cast-off, totally illustrates the point. It could be said that the torch of British Indie has truly been passed on. Whether Embrace were ever the torchbearers is a subject for further debate.
Disappointingly, this decidedly average album could turn out to be a swan song for Embrace, who are not an average band really. How sad. If only they'd have gone to South America for two years and returned with a Latino-tinged, carnival style spice-stomp of an album. One can only wish...