We’ve had waits in our time, but Embrace definitely took the cake, a full 8 year wait since their last 2006 release, This New Day, which as well as including that England World Cup track, it also saw Embrace create their highest single charts position at Number 2 with the single ‘Nature’s Law’! But it wasn’t just their last album where Embrace have tasted success, ever since their breakthrough debut ‘The Good Will Out’, which in itself went down as one of the fastest albums to sell and reach number 1, something yet to be topped by a band of the same genre. Whilst the band didn’t have a smooth run around the ‘Drawn by Memory’, and kind of lost their way a bit with the ‘If You’ve Never Been’ release, Embrace brought the focus back with 2004 album Out of Nothing returning Embrace as a household name. Embrace have always had that edgy rocky Britpop feel throughout their albums, but if you were expecting that same feel in this album you will be left disappointed, but certainly not in a bad way, but it’s a stereotype definitely thrown in the gutter with this release, and here it is, Embrace.
As far as kicking things off with a bang, Protection certainly does that, kicking off with an incredibly cool sounding synth rift from the start and then it hits you, the eight year wait for Danny McNamara’s lead vocals, that whilst are certainly lower than before, still sounding awesome throughout Protection especially. The song is instantly taken to a hip-hop drum-pad led beat, that whilst delivers the verses in a very unique way, it’s certainly one which we’re definitely a fan of. The chorus is delivered with that anthemic sound Embrace have always had. ‘The broken mirrors are reflecting part of me…‘, delivered in that large crowd sing a long feel that Embrace have always been great at. This song was an instant favourite of ours from first listen, the bass sounds great, as does everything else, and from the live link we’ve included above, it sounds great live too!
Protection as a song speaks about the part of your life when everything appears to be falling apart in your life where you really don’t know what’s gonna happen next, reflected in the lyrics in the chorus, ‘can’t see the future, but I know it’s got its eye on me…’. But the song does have a happier note near the end of the song as well as the chorus, that with one person by your side, everything can fall down, but everything will still be ok in the end.
In The End
In The End, even from the beginning, is an up tempo powerful track, from the beginning guitar rift kicking in, to the up beat anthemic beginning that’s sure to get a bit of head bopping out of you. The chorus continues the theme set from Protection with the up-tempo edgy sound that just stands out. In The End does however see some return to the classic Embrace sound, similar guitar rifts and bass, almost reminiscent of something that could have easily been placed on This New Day. In The End talks about how a man copes with a break up and how he’s found himself ‘in the end’ of the relationship, but one not necessarily being ended by him, and how he’s been caught in a maze with what to do with the whole situation. The relationships seems to be a sour one however, with the common references, even in the chorus that, if you can’t even see what’s going on, what’s left.
“And in the end I feel like I’ve been caught in the maze, with an eye on the moves, in mysterious ways, And in the end I feel like I’ve got nothing to say, if you can’t even see, what’s in front of your face”
Refugees, the song that brought Embrace back, whilst for odd reasons it was banned as a Commercial single, the song delivered 4 incredible songs on it’s EP (Extended Play) release, namely Decades, Chameleon and Bullets. Like previous Embrace singles, ‘One Big Family’ and ‘Hooligans’, guitarist Richard McNamara takes the lead vocal seat, and producing seat for Refugees. The song definitely has a dance felt synth feel throughout the verses, with that correct hint of guitar echoing over creating a really intriguing sound which we’re definitely a fan of. The chorus bellows in that signature anthemic way only seemingly Embrace know how, “lift off of this, metropolis…’, and just sounds incredible.
Whilst Richard does the main vocals and chorus, that doesn’t stop Danny McNamara stepping in at the middle 8 during the incredible outro, which in itself includes an awesome sounding acrobatic drum beat and a complete uplifting feel, somewhat reminiscent of something you’d expect from a 2014 ‘The Good Will Out’, which is certainly a good thing in itself.
I Run is the ballad of the album, which sees vocalist Danny McNamara in multiple lights which is defiantly a compliment to the new sound the band are delivering, yet doing it with a seeming connection to the sound you’d expect from the bands Out of Nothing and This New Day releases. The song talks about a man who seemingly sees no future left in his long term relationship, but also a man who’s not helping himself, talking of how instead of solving problems or fixing them, he’s essentially running from the problems rather than helping them out. The song also talks of the increasing efforts taken by the partner to try and fix things but failed, then when the man realises he’s done wrong it’s too late and continues to run, “Oh no more, I’ll run, I run…“.
The song itself is beautiful and heartfelt and joins Protection as one of our favourite album tracks from the album. The melodies the song delivers never fail to keep it in your head and it’s that, that makes the perfect song to us, and is one of those 5/5 songs we love hearing. We have to give credit to bassist, Steve Firth, the rough sounding bass really adds to the sound of the song in a really awesome way, that definitely deserves a mention.
Follow You Home
Follow You Home shows a more poppy side to Embrace, from the disco led drum throughout, to the dark echoey guitar rifts taken from Refugees which make this the obvious single for the album. Whether that’s from the ‘oo oh oo oh oohhhh, I’m gonna follow you home‘, to the general commercial sound of the song that make it perfect for radio play, and a lot of that it’s been getting too. The middle 8 however brings back that traditional Embrace sound, which is also evident with the end of the song when Danny essentially speaks through the end. Despite all of this, this isn’t our favourite songs on the album, likely due to that commercial feel of the track, but still a good song and one that certainly has had its fair share of listens whilst prepping this review.
The song itself is about people who create relationships with people they generally do not know who they’ve met online exclusively, and describes how we are publishing maybe a little too much about ourselves online, whilst the lyrics are rather stalker-ish, it’s that message the song is aiming to send, which is definitely something to be said, I mean the song even mentions stalker at the end, “but I’m not your stalker it’s just my need, I said it to see if you’d follow me”.
If their was one song to describe the change of pace of Embrace, it’s Quarters, this is one of the first tracks on the album that does take a lot of getting used to from the start, from the high pitch backing ‘how did I know I was ever gonna suffer like this…‘, to the almost trance feel of the song that definitely makes it stand out, even on the album. If you like dance tracks, the good ones not the new ones, then you’ll be instantly a fan of this song as it’s an incredibly good one, especially when you get to the chorus, “And I feel myself, surrender, I’m your defender, I’m your defender…“, which just rocks every time it’s played. The song also has dubstep presence throughout its verses that sound incredible… but, will be the decider as to whether fan traditionalists like this track or not, it’s divided many already.
One thing we did notice when reviewing the album, especially the dubstep sound of this track, as well as ‘Self Attack Mechanism’, was that it reminded us of our ‘The 2nd Law‘ review we did from Muse, which whilst divided many with its dubstep yet rock feel, it does make it easier for us to cap this review off, if you liked that sound of tracks like ‘Unsustainable’ and the end of ‘Follow Me’ by Muse, you’ll love the song of tracks on this Embrace album like this.
I don’t know who decided to put the second ballad of the album after Quarters, but they did. If you’ve been waiting for a classic Embrace song with that signature guitar sound and feel, you won’t be let down by At Once. At Once talks about someone fixing themselves from an argument and the argument that everything should not be done quickly, rushed and, essentially all ‘at once’. The song has the same familiar sound that could easily have made it to the 2004 album ‘Out of Nothing’, which most certainly is not a bad thing as that was a fan favourite.
The song continues that rock britpop sound we’ve been loving from multiple bands, and it just sounds great to listen to, which we definitely can’t complain with. The lyrics talk about how trying to fix things instantly is the bad idea, and how when both parties know they’ve done wrong, it’s always best to work together gradually to sort things out.
‘It’s not bad blood I’m bleeding, just the big drop I’m feeling. From my blank spot you see there. Everything that matters is broken, lost and shattered, all at once“
Self Attack Mechanism
Self Attack Mechanism joins ‘Quarters’ as been the two tracks that definitely can go either way, with us we’re still not sure about it. The song definitely has a lot of things going on through it, from the rocky metal drums throughout the song which sound incredible and energetic, to the chorus which reminds of something you’d hear from the likes of Dragonforce instead of Embrace, which again can be taken as an awesome thing or not. Danny’s vocals are also rather interesting, which are mainly rapped throughout the verses, which whilst doesn’t sound bad, it definitely takes a bit of getting used to. Having said that, we do like the song, and not to compare this to ‘The 2nd Law‘ again, but whilst we didn’t like Unsustainable from the start, after a multitude of listens after our review, we ended up liking it a lot more, so we’ll have to see how we go with this.
The lyrics of Self Attack Mechanism however, along with the last track on the album ‘A Thief on My Island’ touch upon lead singer Danny McNamara’s struggles when he was younger with PTSD, a common illness suffered by mostly those aged, like Danny was at the time, between 18-24 years of age. Hints of this illness can also be found on other songs on the album too.
The Devil Looks After His Own
The Devil Looks After His Own is an awesome track, with quite possibly the most striking chorus that you’ll find on the album, it’s also the most rocky song on the album with a grungy guitar rift making its way through the verses and the powerhouse of a chorus that just sounds immense. ‘Oh am I speaking in tongues, have I got it all wrong, you and ME, you and ME. The devil cares for his own, so there’s a place for us both, you and ME, you and ME!‘.
The songs meaning whilst isn’t clear, from what is clear is you’re left with an incredible rocky sing-a-long anthem that will stay in your head after the first listen guaranteed, and that we love! If you’re looking for a song you can just sing a long and have a nice head bop, this ones for you.
A Thief On My Island
A Thief On My Island is an interesting song that combined the entire range this album has previously delivers, no lie this is anthemic rocky yet at times dubstep, yet at times has reminiscences from the classic Embrace we’ve all been used to over the years. The song talks about someone who is not sure of themselves personally, likely relating to the historic pains singer Danny McNamara went through when he suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), where you feel alone in the world and anyone trying to get in was like a thief on your island, the island being your personality locking people away, and the thief being the intruder which you’re personality doesn’t want intruding.
‘My belly’s sinking with that sickness, is every one bigger than me…”
The song itself, whilst is a bit over the top with the trance/dubstep feel at the end, with an almost rage style explosions of drums near the end, but at the end of the day that’s exactly wants song is trying to do, send the message out as loud and clear, giving the messages included exposure. Hints of this illness can also be found on other songs on the album too.
Embrace have waited 8 years to release this, whilst not all of those 8 years were creating the album, they were in the process of writing, whilst the band did an intended to be 5 years hiatus. What has come from it? Put simply, an incredible album that really takes Embrace leaps and bounds further than we left them in 2006. Whilst we did have hints of a future album in 2007, what we’ve got out of ‘Embrace’ is a much more mature complete album, and we can’t wait to see whatever this band does next now!
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