How We Operate

The U.K. band Gomez is back with their fifth studio album, and the first for a new record label. After recording for Virgin Records since their debut, they moved over to Dave Matthews' ATO Records. The band's Tom Gray suggests that the band has been reinvigorated by the change. "It's been a breath of fresh air," he says, "after the deeply ridiculous world of today's corporate record industry, where the tax year dictates creative output."

For How We Operate the band made a few key creative changes to their approach. They hired their first outside producer, settling on Gil Norton who has worked with The Pixies and Foo Fighters. Tom Gray explains "I've been a crazy, huge Pixies fan my entire life, since I was thirteen."

The album certainly captures a band in these transitions. The title song, while ostensibly a love song, proclaims "Turn a new page, tear the old one out/And I'll try to see things your way." The track "Hamoa Beach" cautions against dwelling too much on the past: "Remember the good old days/But love is like a dragonfly/So beautiful, it will die/And disappear before your eyes."

The band's Ben Ottewell explains another shift in their musical approach. "The last album," he says, "was pretty rocking, and reflected the live show a lot. With this one, we wanted to focus on songs, melodies and words, rather than volume."

The song "See The World" exemplifies this. Beginning with an acoustic guitar figure reminiscent of Bruce Cockburn's "Wondering Where the Lions Are" and unfolding like the Faces' "Oh-la-la," it's a delightful pop synthesis right down to its "sha-la-la-la" bridge.

Which is not to suggest that Gomez has fully turned away from the controlled cacophany that past albums have showcased. "Tear Your Love Apart" merges syncopates guitar riffs with distorted garage-rock keyboard to nice effect. The title song sways from plucking banjo and acoustic guitar to a soaring arena-friendly chorus.

How We Operate is simply a great album, and likely to find its way onto many 2006 best-of lists.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director