Indie boys get soulful

Embrace_never_been_me Epic Northern rockers Embrace recently enjoyed the biggest comeback since Lazarus. Just as we thought they were destined for the indie bargain bin, the McNamara brothers returned to the fray with the glorious Chris Martin penned Gravity. Ironically, though, the accompanying album was their weakest to date – high on production values, but low on memorable tunes. Embrace actually made their masterpiece long before Martin got his slogan-emblazoned hands on them – their seriously underrated 2001 third album, If You’ve Never Been is a slow-burning, soulful record with a gorgeous melancholy vibe.

It’s actually better than anything that Coldplay have put their name to, yet it’s fallen off the pop radar – we feel it’s time for a serious reappraisal.  (Embrace fans should look out for the band’s B-sides collection, Dry Kids – 1997-2005 – out on October 31). Veering away from the chest beating Zippo-friendly stadium anthems of Embrace’s debut, The Good Will Out, and the forced eclecticism of its follow-up, Drawn From Memory, If You’ve Never Been is a more low-key affair, thanks to Ken Nelson’s inspired production.

Listening to this album is like being immersed in a warm bath. Where previously Embrace could be jarring and bombastic, Nelson makes them sound like they’re playing an intimate set in your living room. Critics have always made cruel comments about front man Danny McNamara’s limited vocal abilities, but on this record he really comes into his own – his little boy lost singing style perfectly complements the laidback, lush instrumentation.

He’s not the only member of the band to triumph on this record – keyboardist Mick Dale embellishes these gentle songs with burbling synths, mellow organ and electronic effects – just listen to the beautiful Many Will Learn, the awe-inspiring opening track Over and the ever so slightly funky Hey, What You Trying To Say, which manages to combine the groove of Walk On The Wild Side with, er, the theme from Last of The Summer Wine! Although heavy on the bruised ballads, If You’ve Never Been also finds time to enjoy itself – the jaunty title track is a Beachboys inspired sing-a-long and the stupidly catchy It’s Gonna Take Time is an indie white boy soul classic with a bold Stax brass arrangement. If you’ve never been in love with this record, then you haven’t lived.

Embrace – If You’ve Never Been 2001 (Hut)

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One Response to “Indie boys get soulful”

  1. D.B. PARKES Says:

    SORRY … I THOUGHT THE MENSWEAR BLURB WAS UNACCEPTABLE ..THIS IS VERGING ON THE CRIMINAL.
    I’LL BE AS SHORT AND WHOLLY BLUNT AS I DEEM ADEQUATE.
    I THINK DULL/POORLY ATTIRED/LONG HAIRED/GALLAGHER WORSHIPPING(BOTH OF THE DULLARDS NO LESS)/WORTHY/SELF CONGRATULATORY/MID TEMPO SINGEE ALONGEE COOM ON(YOUR CITY HERE)/NOT SOLEY INDICITIVE BUT WILL DO NICELY AS AN EXAMPLE OF RETROCENTRIC SLOB TOSS ROCK UK(1993-PRESENT)/NOT GAY AT ALL/../../..SPARING EXPLETIVES YOU UNDERSTAND…
    THAT’S IT FOR NOW..I MAY BE BACK

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