EMBRACE - The Good Will Out (Hut)

The reputation of this cocky Bradford four-piece precedes them.

Brothers Danny and Richard McNamara invited Oasis comparisons by claiming superiority, although both bands deal in broad strokes and Northern prole art threat. Top 10 EPs and a solid press base see stadium-ready Embrace enter the albums market at precisely the right moment: it's the outdoor air-punching season and the Gallaghers are on holiday. The Verve proved that the one-tempo album is a workable proposition. This relentless 14-tracker only confirms Urban Hymns' uncommon achievement. Terrace anthems are Embrace's stock-in-trade (All You Good Good People, The Last Gas) - rousing in short doses but punishing over an hour, chiefly due to Danny McNamara's limited voice, which has none of - say - Liam Gallagher's textural grace. Strings are employed relentlessly but the effect is like underlining a shopping list for effect. Come Back To What You Know and Fireworks, truly stirring epics, deserve hearing away from an album whose admirable ambition falls short of old-fashioned ability. If they'd arrived quietly, this would have been promising. In the event, it's disappointing. Huge sales seem assured, naturally, proving that the quite good will out.


Andrew Collins


EMBRACE - The Good Will Out (Hut)

The big album - Grand gesture

The sound of an orchestra tuning up introduces The Good Will Out, and its inclusion is a statement in itself. This isn't just an album, it says, this is a performance - a real experience. It's the sort of gesture we have come to expect from Embrace. Expansive, grandiose, and bordering on arrogance.

The band have spent the past 18 months declaring they were about to be the next Oasis and, given that they hail from the North, play emotive, heart-on-the-sleeve rock music and boast two brothers at their core, there were always going to be comparisons.

So are they the next Oasis? Well, if sounding like them is a prerequisite, then they may well be. I Want the World, the new, uptempo track that appears on the album, could well qualify as an Oasis B-side.

Fortunately, I Want the World is also the album's weakest moment - Embrace possess far greater scope. Shame, though, that they didn't choose to reveal more of it. Six of the 13 tracks here have already appeared on the clutch of EPs which preceded it, leaving only seven new numbers for fans. The older material has been re-recorded and polished up for representation, though you would be hard pushed to notice beyond the odd tweak here and there.

All You Good Good People, their biggest hit to date, opens the album. With the orchestra sweeping across it, expansively overscoring its anthemic status, Embrace sound as if they mean business.

Their most recent single Come Back to What You Know capitalises on the upbeat mood. It's probably the best chorus they have ever written, but where Embrace really make their mark is with the ballads. Higher Sights and the soaring That's All Changed Forever, like Now You're Nobody and Fireworks (both also included here from the same EP) allow the McNamara brothers to pull out the emotional stops.

When Embrace put the bluster to one side they hit a genuinely soulful note. Conversely, when they try and rock their impact is diminished. One Big Family aside, tracks such as the aforementioned I Want The World and You've Got to Say Yes expose their limitations. Danny lacks the vocal punch, guitarist brother Richard the firepower.

The wooden riff that dominates You've Got to Say Yes is a case in point; the brass section saves a song that begs for a solo. In fact, there are few guitar flourishes to be found here, and stand-out instrumental moments come from the keyboard or string arrangements that were added in Abbey Road.

Noel Gallagher has already bluntly expressed his reservations about their vocals in the past, but while Danny is no Liam, he does handle the slower numbers well despite occasionally piling on the gravitas.

Still, The Good Will Out aims to be more than a meat-and-potatoes rock album and in that it succeeds. Embrace are different because, as Danny sings, "we set our sights too high". Nothing wrong with that if you also have the humility to sometimes own up to it.




EMBRACE - The Good Will Out (Hut)

THE long-awaited and much-vaunted first album by Embrace conjures an unwelcome sensation of déjà vu for a variety of reasons. A guitar group from the North of England, led by two brothers whose fascination with the sounds of the 1960s is matched only by a shameless enthusiasm for blowing their own trumpet, Embrace could not be more obviously primed to pick up where Oasis and the Verve have left off.

Indeed, whatever Embrace's credentials as the genuine article - and to give them their due, it has been seven years since Danny and Richard McNamara (singer and guitarist respectively) started the group in Huddersfield - The Good Will Out gives a pretty strong impression of having been designed to a marketing department's exact specifications. From the clichéd front cover, depicting four shadowy figures striding purposefully along a street, to the lush orchestration and uniformly slow tempos, there is an air of calculated ambition about this album which is at odds with the "meaningful" emotions it purports to explore.

Maudlin ballads with skyscraper choruses such as My Weakness Is None Of Your Business and Come Back To What You Know are as ponderous and long-winded as their titles, while Fireworks is simply The Drugs Don't Work, Part II. And although the title track, among others, demonstrates an enviable talent for writing anthemic singalongs in the Hey Jude mould, they tend to overplay their hand, freighting songs such as One Big Family and All You Good Good People with absurd excesses of populist sentiment.

Although aimed squarely at a retro arena-rock market that is fast approaching saturation point, the album nevertheless pushes enough of the right buttons, and Embrace will probably be as successful as bands such as the Mission or perhaps even the Cult were in the 1980s; and just as soon forgotten.

A better title would have been The Hype Will Out.


EMBRACE - The Good Will Out (Hut)

EMBRACE have a lot to live up to, not least the bombastic claims made for them by their lippy front man, Danny McNamara, whose nice line in understatement - "I don't need people telling me how good we are, because I already know" - gives a special frisson to their much anticipated debut album. Much of it has been aired before, in a series of work-in-progress EPs that culminated in last November's Top 10 hit, All You Good Good People. A self-limiting soundscape of rousing choruses and multilayered guitars is too much in evidence, though the new single, Come Back to What You Know, succeeds where other examples fail. It is on the slower, more contemplative songs, such as the sublime, mournful Fireworks and the resigned, indulgent Higher Sights, that Embrace achieve a poetic and dynamic depth to justify the hype. The new Oasis? Not if they know what's good for them. The next big thing? Quite possibly. DC