Gomez, ‘Liquid Skin’

Gomez, to be frank, don’t really look like the sorts of boys you’d expect much from, outside of a free beer and a good chat about the new Martin Amis novel. Much has been made of their pasty-facedness, so much, in fact, that it’s become quite a cliche by now – in their native England it’s almost become their calling card, a big “f— you” to all the snot-nosed hacks who insist all rock stars must look like Jim Morrison and sound like Freddie Mercury. Well, guess what? Gomez don’t (as one glance at the liner photos will attest), and by the sound of it, are quite content with their particular look and station.

Originally dismissed by many as poseurs attempting to chip shards off the R&B/classic rock marble David, Gomez really are, in fact, five guys with a penchant for Tom Waits and Son House, numerous bongos, some shakers, a few acoustic guitars, a smattering of effects pedals and some very enviable songwriting chops. Anyone who heard their award-winning debut Bring It On has some sense of their scope; blues-tinged ballads, easy rockers that wouldn’t be out of place on a Skynyrd album, a lot of strumming, some nonsensical lyrics about breezes and silver teeth, and an overarching atmosphere of marijuana smoke make for what is time and time again a great listen. These guys are really very charming in fact and they’re undeniably back in force. A very laid-back force, that is.

Liquid Skin starts off with some studio banter, only to lurch into “Hangover”, the kind of acoustic reggae shuffle that is becoming a trademark for Gomez. “We Haven’t Turned Around,” probably the album’s best track, is lush and beautiful. Gomez occupy the song’s space very comfortably, and the relaxed atmosphere of Liquid Skin really begins to make sense. “Revolutionary Kind” takes the same kind of swipe at British dance culture that Blur so memorably lampooned on “Girls And Boys,” only rather than being a catchy come-on and dance hit in its own right, it’s content to casually lob insults, too stoned to rise from its Laz-Y-Boy. It’s at this point that you might begin to realize Gomez’s limitations. Even as main vocalist Ben Ottewell implores you to “Share the wine at my table,” it’s hardly an invitation of torrid, Dionysian sexuality.

Gomez basically have very little to say, most of their lyrical ideas being vaguely tossed-off approximations of R&B/blues verse. It’s tough, for example, to imagine Otis Redding singing any of their lyrics with much conviction, although to harp on this fact is really to miss the point. That Gomez exist at all is wonderful. They’re more rock ’n’ roll than Bush could ever even conceive of in the wettest of their Nirvana delusions. As the boys finish the album bellowing “Devil Will Ride,” you might even be tempted to imagine the Glimmer Twins in their glory days, or maybe just a particularly rowdy Jackson Browne. Either way, Gomez are here to stay, and rock ’n’ roll, as they say, is as well.