Gomez How We Operate

It might be pushing it to call it "The Curse of the Mercury Music Prize” but most of the artists who have been fortunate enough to win Britain’s premiere music award seem to either disappear into obscurity or fail to capitalise on their new found fame. That is particularly true of Gomez whose beloved 1998 album Bring It On won. While never recapturing their moment in the spotlight, the three subsequent albums were well received critically but were both intriguing and frustrating. Although willing to experiment musically, they never seem to stick with anything new — any progress, no matter how successful, is short-lived. That’s why their fifth album comes as such a shock. Spiritually, How We Operate is as close as the band have gotten to those early days because they simply sound comfortable in a way that they haven’t for years. They sound fresh and revitalised, making this their best album for some time. With singing duties being split between the familiar gruffness of Ben Ottewell, with Ian Ball and Tom Gray providing backup, the album sounds rich and varied. Gil Norton’s production is a little too polished, but it does let their bluesy rock shine through. It is a complex record that doesn’t reveal its charms after just one listen, but Gomez were never a band who gave it up on the first date. Prepare to start a long-term relationship. (ATO)