How We Operate
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2006, Volume 13, #4
Written by John Metzger
With the release of its fifth proper studio effort How We Operate, it immediately is apparent that Gomez still hasnít managed to shrug off the growing pains that not only kept it from reaching its full potential on Split the Difference but also more seriously marred the underperforming concert set Out West. Thereís good news, though, in that the outfit also hasnít lost any additional ground. Part of the problem plaguing the new collection is that, at times, the music sounds labored ó as if the band is trying too hard to win over an American audience that it isnít likely to captivate.
Gomezís charm consistently has been its eccentrically eclectic style, which has allowed it to make a splash among jam band aficionados as well as fans of introspective singer/songwriters. In toning down its quirky tendencies in order to achieve a greater following, as it does on portions of How We Operate, it significantly reduces the potency of its material. The title track, for example, becomes mired in its arena-friendly, Dave Matthews-inspired appropriations, while tunes like Charley Patton Songs and Cry on Demand simply run out of stream before theyíve concluded. In addition, Gomezís utilization of strange transitions and blues-y undercurrents largely has given way to a more streamlined blend of folk, pop, and rock. On Hamoa Beach, the ensemble cops Squeeze; on Girlshapedlovedrug, it fuses Modern English with Travis; and on Woman! Man!, it turns its attention to The Zombies and Donovan.
Fortunately, Gomezís knack for crafting sturdy melodies and slathering them with shimmering harmonies and subtle effects remains intact, which is what keeps even the most straightforward fare on How We Operate from becoming utterly mundane. Considering that the group remains capable of twisting its influences in a knot ó Tear Your Love Apart, for example, stuffs The Monkeesí brand of í60s sunshine inside a casing of Clash-y punk and Doors-ian darkness ó thereís hope that Gomez one day may fulfill the promise it displayed on Liquid Skin and In Our Gun.
Of Further Interest...
How We Operate is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box