The view's too good to jump

Ten years ago this week, 'The Good Will Out' by Embrace went to number one in the UK album charts. They're totally uncool, and have always been uncool, but so help me God, I still listen to 'The Good Will Out' sometimes. In the summer of 98, Oasis had already gone off the deep end, and these guys were a) also two brothers, b) from the North, c) were prone to statements like "We're the best band that ever lived and everyone else can fuck off", and d) wrote massive singalong anthems with huge choruses. So, their debut album was a "buy it in the first week" kind of deal, back when people actually bought CDs. Also, I first read about them in Select Magazine, which doesn't exist anymore but was, at its best, unimpeachable.

Anyway, Embrace's rockin' songs were pretty good, but they really did ballads especially well. 'Fireworks' and 'Retread' and 'Higher Sights' make for a trilogy of pretty songs which made the girls swoon. Things got more noisy with 'The Last Gas', and 'All You Good, Good People'. Plus there was 'One Big Family', which got the lads shouting "We are family!", only more drunk. The slow songs might have been more effective if their singer Danny McNamara didn't sound like a Yorkshire Walrus, but you can't have everything. 'The Good Will Out', the final song, was a massive singalong with broad lyrical themes like conquering demons and overcoming adversity ("You don't know how well you've played until you've won"). It may add up to a pretty basic formula: simple verse + colossal singalong chorus = hit! but that's fine with me.

With their everyman choruses and mass appeal, I can see why most critics rarely had much nice to say Embrace, and why they're still considered resolutely uncool. And to be truthful, I didn't really care for anything they did after their second (of five) album(s). But I was 15, went to see them live a few times, and really enjoyed this album.

And yes, I know Ian MacKaye has a post-hardcore band with the same name. I don't think there's much overlap between the two sets of fans.

[download Embrace - You've Got to Say Yes]
[download Embrace - Retread]

[Embrace myspace / official]


Anonymous said...

an astonishing 1st album and the early singles had some gr8 trax

Jim said...

The Good Will Out was a cracking album, the early singles had pretty ace b-sides, and Select was the only music magazine worth reading in the UK in the last 15 years.

In short, I agree with all what you wrote, that's one in the onion bag for you Sir!

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