El Bicho's Hive

A Collection of Reviews Covering the Worlds of Art and Entertainment alongside other Snobbish Ramblings.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Virgin Records

Gomez’ Tom Gray calls Split The Difference “a big, loud, tight rock ‘n’ roll album with some psychedelic elements.” I would certainly agree and the band makes its intentions known before a note is heard with the album cover’s Yellow Submarine homage. A fuzzed-out guitar is strummed on the opening track “Do One,” welcoming you as you drop into their world. You can hear your descent with the assistance of some studio effects.

The band is seriously interested in the craft of songwriting. There is an importance placed on melody and harmonies that translates into the creation of fun, happy music that makes you glad to be alive. Most of the tunes are head-boppin’, toe-tappin’ gems that make it hard to sit still, so get up and dance if you must. The singing on Split The Difference doesn’t get stale because the band has four of the five band members sing. The drummer even gets into the act with “Extra Special Guy.”

They do slow it down a few times. The melancholy “Sweet Virginia,” has a string orchestra playing the song to its conclusion. They cruise the Louisiana swamps by way of the ‘90s Manchester dance scene on the cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “Meet Me in the City,” turning this blues song inside out while still retaining the emotion of lyrics. The alt-country closer “There It Was” slows down to almost a standstill as the album fades out.

Split The Difference should be played loud, but it is ideal for headphones. “We Don’t Know Where We’re Going” opens with guitar strumming bouncing back and forth between speakers. There are little extras throughout the album that you can hear when you give your full attention to it.

Gomez wants to keep an air of mystery around them. They don’t identify the band in the liner notes. Also, the lyrics aren’t printed in the CD booklet. The song titles are accompanied by odd drawings, which I’m sure get over analyzed for their meaning by college kids who misinterpreted my use of the word “drop” earlier in this review.

This is my first introduction to the band, so I can only judge this album, not the progression of the band as some more serious Gomez-heads may. I’m certain they don’t identify themselves that way, but I’m a lazy music reviewer so that’s how I will identify them until I hear different.

I don’t understand what is wrong with radio programmers in Southern California. I have never heard of Gomez before, yet their fourth album Split The Difference is such a great slice of happy, psychedelic pop rock that they are really shirking their responsibilities to the public. After all, the people supposedly own the airwaves, so write the FCC and complain about something important for a change.