Album Review: Gomez- Whatever’s On Your Mind
Whatever’s On Your Mind
Gomez’ three-vocalist arrangement could be considered analogous (if you’re into that sort of thing) to the varying character of their output. Ian Ball and Tom Gray’s clean, sweet, everyman pipes do great work on every album and on some of their best songs, but when Ben Ottewell’s distinctive gravel-rash tones kick in, that’s when you go, “Ahhh – THERE’S Gomez.” As they’ve slowly moved away from the cheeky humour and oblique blues & electronic infusions that won them plaudits in 1998, they still haven’t ever written a single bad song. But without that extra grittiness, they can be a little too nice.
It’s a slippery slope from nice to boring, and some of the song titles of Whatever’s On Your Mind could be from a Selena Gomez or Josh Groban album: ‘Just As Lost As You’, ‘Song In My Heart’, ‘Our Goodbye’… Many of the choruses are easy and bland, and the production (by the band, with Sam Farrar of Phantom Planet) is crisp and workmanlike. ‘That Wolf’ sounds more like Semisonic than anyone else, ‘The Place And The People’ has a worrying Viva La Vida vibe, and the title track is crying out for its own sad-face montage in a Richard Curtis movie.
There are some gems to be found here, though – the capering beat and tongue-in-cheek fatalism of opener ‘Options’ make it feel like a classic straight away, right down to the cheeky sax and Ottewell’s cameo on a rollicking bridge. And despite its limp lyrics, ‘Song In My Heart’ sees all three vocalists on equal footing over an unselfconsciously cheesy synth and tinny drum machine, and the experiment pays off unexpectedly well; it ends up the best love song here. It says something about 2011 Gomez that I’m kinda hoping the next album is heavy on the 808s.
Gomez are veering dangerously close to the middle of the road.