Gomez emerged in 1998 with Bring It On, a tremendous debut whose eclectic style and adherence to blues tropes stood in stark contrast to the bright Who and Beatles-spawned Brit-pop of the time. But as time went on, the hippy vibe inherent in Gomez's psychedelic-blues shuffle began to predominate over the band's other influences. This culminated with 2002's turgid In Our Gun, which maintains the British quintet's penchant for experimentation but goes overboard with laconic, stoner grooves that appeal only to those who conceive of a slightly trip-hopped Phish as a good idea.
Apparently Gomez recognized the need for a change and for the first time brought in a producer -- Tchad Blake (Soul Coughing, Richard Thompson) -- who fortunately dials back those bad habits and impulses, presiding over the band's best album since its debut. Already blessed with one of the best basso singers in rock (the gruff Ben Ottewell), the band returns to the shambling rock bounce that graced its biggest hit, "Get Myself Arrested." While nothing here is quite that, um, arresting, it's easily Gomez's most rock-driven release and a peculiarly fun listen, recapturing the energy of that first album. Opening act the Thrills favor a sun-kissed pop style that mixes '60s West Coast folk psychedelica with a bit of country flavor (à la Beachwood Sparks).
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