MM ALBUMS REVIEW 6/6/98 EMBRACE - The Good Will Out


And so, finally, it hovers into view. Hopelessly behind schedule, ludicrously over-hyped and needing to break all known commercial records to justify its own existence. But hey! - enough about "Titanic", let's talk Embrace.

Although the comparisons hardly end there. "The Good Will Out" equals James Cameron's move epic in terms of ambition, scope and scale. And for Cameron's tyrannical perfectionist read Danny McNamara, flogging his band-mates to new heights of musical excellence, while the same arrogance that dubbed the original craft "unsinkable" has buoyed Embrace up to the point where they believe Oasis, The Verve, and even The World Cup (with which this album shares a release week) can't stop them.

They may well be right. Danny's been talking this album up since someone first thrust a dictaphone in front of him. He's delayed it by months in search of perfection. But now, with the critical iceberg awaiting proud Captain McNamara, the good ship Embrace sails serenely past. Because, when confronted with this album, the first thing that strikes you is not its arrogance, but it's humility. For all the pose, Embrace remain more likely to play the sensitive soul than the unfeeling rock god. One of this album's stand-out tracks may be entitled "My Weakness Is None Of Your Business" but, here, Danny's emotional frailty is very much our business. And business is booming.

Consequently, Embrace are at their least engaging when they resemble their caricature (the blustering "I Want The World" is how you'd imagine them if you'd only read the soundbites) and merely endearing when pulling self-conciously "classic" tricks like chucking a full orchestra and 30-piece brass section at a version of "All You Good Good People" for which the word "epic" does scant justice.

But when they harness emotional honesty to tunes to die for, they become essential. And, while in the live "arena", Danny can resemble Leonardo DiCaprio (nice packaging, shame about the wooden delivery), here his voice - while hardly flawless - projects more soul than a Dr Marten's planning meeting. This works brilliantly enough on the rockers ("The Last Gas","One Big Family"), it's when it's harnessed to stunning ballads like "Fireworks", "Retread" and "That's All Changed Forever)" that it can't help but bring the words "Richard Ashcroft" and "Retire now!" to mind.

As a whole, "The Good Will Out" locks together like the very best movies (however many tracks you've heard before, it won't really make sense until you've put them all together) and employs many of the same heart-tugging dramas and dynamics as "Titanic" ("Come Back To What You Know" could even feasibly be covered by Celine Dion). But this astounding album has real substance, not hollow bombast, at its heart. And, as with "Titanic", we know how it will end. With a block-busting box office return and our triumphant hero at the prow of his magnificent vessel screaming "Woo-hooh! I'm on top of the world!"

Experience it now, as they say on the film posters.