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Embrace - How to Be a Person Like Other People (Album Review)

Wednesday, 07 September 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Although a more consistent and sure-footed effort than 2018’s ‘Love Is A Basic Need’, Embrace’s eighth album is still plagued by some of the same issues that rendered its predecessor plodding and predictable. Nevertheless, thanks to stronger songwriting, a re-energised band and vocalist Danny McNamara giving the performance of his lifetime, such failings are less of a bugbear on this mostly splendid effort.

The biggest problem with the Yorkshire quintet’s previous offering was that, after 2014’s stunning self-titled reinvention, they’d surprisingly defaulted to an Embrace-by-numbers sound that didn’t live up to past glories. Viewed through the prism of ‘How To Be A Person Like Other People’, however, it seems the issue wasn’t so much half-hearted retreat as patchy, unconvincing execution.

This is the most operatic and epic album to bear the Embrace tag. Luscious, pristine and often bolstered by sweeping orchestral strokes, its 10 stirring tunes have been immaculately produced by guitarist Richard McNamara to enhance their rhapsodic emotional scope. 

Death Is Not The End flings open the grandiose curtain with confidence to burn.  Following teasing piano strokes from Mickey Dale, the band kick up a swirling gust of chiming cyclical guitar strokes, thunderclap drumming, huge communal refrains and the McNamara brothers’ roof-raising harmonies.

Rubble, meanwhile, is one of those spine-tingling melancholic Embrace numbers that uses beautiful chord changes to underscore a tear-jerking chorus melody, and How To Be A Person evolves through wonderful Hey Jude singalong passages before reaching a euphoric climax impelled by Rich’s preacher man vocal hollering.   

Throughout this record the band’s signature hook writing is often back to its very best. That said, folk number Terms Of My Surrender is too repetitive and never ascends to the grandstanding finale it seems destined to reach.  The sweet-sounding Kate, one of those charming but self indulgent tunes musicians pen for their kids, won’t appeal to anyone outside the immediate family.

Much like ‘Love Is A Basic Need’, this album barely breaks out of a mid-tempo gait and only We Are It finds the band stepping on the accelerator. As a result of its pacing, it initially feels sluggish and badly sequenced, until Danny’s spellbinding work sinks in and everything begins to gel.  

Delivering confessional, joyous and redemptive stories of growth, repentance, contrition and salvation, his gripping expressiveness draws you into these songs in a way that subsequently pulls all the pieces of the record together, accentuating lush,  instrumental textures and engaging arrangements that pleasingly swerve structural formulae.

Embrace have always been the missing link between swaggering Britpop and sensitive post millennial indie-rock. On ‘How To Be A Person Like Other People’ the five piece have pushed that dynamic to its limit. The result is a hugely uplifting  album that, although flawed, slowly permeates the skin as the band’s trademark synthesis of intimacy and bombast works its magic.

Embrace Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu September 08 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri September 09 2022 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town
Sat September 10 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Sun September 11 2022 - NORWICH LCR UEA

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