It’s hard to believe that the likes of Coldplay and The Strokes were mere twinkles in their A&R man’s eye when Gomez first emerged as young whippersnappers on the scene with a healthy disregard for any other music going on at the time and a singer with a belter of a blues voice. Still, four albums later and here they are with even less regard for their contemporaries and an album which continues their wanderings off the beaten track.
The most audible progression on this album is the tempo. Anyone already acquainted with the rockabilly beat of Catch Me Up and the power-pop sensibilities of Silence may well have raised an eyebrow at their fast pace – this album more than anything else shows Gomez finally rocking out. Interestingly, both singles are sung by Tom Gray, who I’ve always thought of as the band’s third vocalist. But with the band’s democracy dictating that the songwriter sings his own song, it looks like Tom’s come up with the hits this time round.
This policy can have its problems however. Split The Difference shows three very differing styles of songwriting and singing. With the easy blues-rock of Ben Ottewell’s songs, the quirky, ’60s-influenced pop of Ian Ball and the more classic songwriting of Tom Gray, each song battles for its own place in the tracklisting.
With the first three tracks of the album showcasing each songwriter in turn, it’s hard to settle into the kind of groove that was so comfortably present on their debut Bring It On. It’s almost easier to listen to each song individually rather than digesting the album as a whole all in one go.
Needless to say, then, that Split The Difference takes a good few listens to take in. The album is worth persisting with though – the songs brim with ideas, melodies and moods, from the simple waltz-time of Me, You And Everybody to the more sinister and complex We Don’t Know Where We’re Going and the laid-back acoustic blues of Meet Me In The City. Other high points include the Oasis-style rock-out of Nothing is Wrong and the impossibly fast (just try dancing to it) These 3 Sins.
Gomez have never been, and never will be, fashionable. Their appeal is of the slow-burning variety – the more time you put into them the more you get out. But if you don’t invest first, you won’t know what you’re missing.