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Whatever's On Your Mind
Gomez Whatever's On Your Mind
Released 3 June 2011
Producer Gomez, Sam Farrar
Label Eat Sleep Records
Length 37:39
Genre Indie rock
Website www.gomeztheband.com

When 1998’s Bring It On was awarded the Mercury Music Prize ahead of the likes of Mezzanine and Urban Hymns, Gomez must have assumed that they had made it, an assumption that was surely solidified by their follow up album, Liquid Skin, reaching number two in the UK charts. But the world domination never followed. They built a solid base of loyal fans, but when they fell out of favour in the music press the hangers-on dropped away and the proceeding albums dropped down the charts. This hasn’t lessened their appetite to create music and Whatever’s On Your Mind is their seventh studio album.

Let’s start with the good; you don’t get to seven albums without being able to write catchy tunes and Whatever’s On Your Mind has its fair share starting with album opener and lead single 'Options'. Ian Bell takes lead vocals over a locomotive rhythm of acoustic guitars and synth horns, the chorus is a bit samey but Ben Ottewell’s aggressive vocal cameo snaps the listener out of the daze. 'I Will Take You There' has shades of Supergrass as it slips through a syncopated mesh of organ, brass and guitars. Structurally it’s hard to pin down but it remains constantly upbeat and interesting. The title track finds Ottewell in self-help guru mode urging the subject of the song to let go of whatever’s on their mind. The lyrics are a far cry from the inspired writing from his solo album released earlier this year but the strings make up for any shortcomings.

'Song In My Heart' is the highlight of the album and easily the most catchy song on display. How do I know this? Because every time I played this song whoever was within earshot would inadvertently start drumming out the beat with their fingers. The stop/start rhythm of the verses mixed with the straightforward vocal line and close harmonies make it easy to digest, giving it that instant familiarity that all good pop songs have. Not for the first time on the album the song segues into a more generic and syrupy chorus with the title repeated over various ooohs and aaaahs. It definitely would have benefited from an edgier chorus and sounds like two song ideas shoe horned together, a likely scenario given that Gomez are dispersed across the globe.

So now to the bad, or perhaps more accurately- the bland. Whatever’s On Your Mind is awash with pop tunes but the bite and the variation from earlier recordings is lacking. There’s plenty to enjoy but by their own standards this album is a bit samey and comes across as just too pleasant and inoffensive at times. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh because there are some lovely moments on this album but it needs equal amounts of light and shade to make it an experience rather than a collection of nice songs. Even when the distorted bass of 'Equalize' and 'X-Rays' kicks in towards the end of the album it’s almost as an afterthought, arriving much too late to really change your impression of the album.

If Whatever’s On Your Mind proves one thing it’s that Gomez can still knock out the tunes. Though they might not be as cutting edge as they used to, fans will still be happy that they continue to push forward, leaving the flaming wreckages of so many Britpop era bands in their wake. It’s not going to put them back on top of the world but you can imagine the likes of Dodgy, Mansun and Space will be looking on with envy.

- Brian Kinsella