Posted by: Richard Frost | 4 Apr 2020

Gomez: Split the Difference album review

Logo for Durham University's student newspaper PalatinateOriginal publication date: May 2004
Outlet: Palatinate

You either love it or you hate it. If Marmite ever needed a band to support its slogan, then traditional thinking has it they could do far worse than choose Gomez.

The mellow, stoner, blues-rock of their Mercury Music Prize-winning debut Bring it On has always split opinion and consigned them to dreaded cult band status. Now though, the pop sensibilities evidenced in their 2002 LP In Our Gun have been confirmed as Split the Difference makes a bid for the masses.

I must admit to adoring the ‘old’ Gomez, the only good blues band not in your grandad’s collection. However, I appreciate many will be glad to see this act disappear as the blues is forced out in favour of guitar-driven indie-rock.

Album artwork for Split the Difference by Southport indie-rock band Gomez

Thankfully, Gomez continue to stand out from this overcrowded market through their intelligent, densely layered instrumentals and vocal harmonies, which abound in hook-laden new single Silence. But it’s their catchy rhythms that now drive the music, as the electronica and shuffling rhythm-guitar loops finally streamline the songs rather than just supplying fancy ornamentation.

The more approachable formula does come at a price though, as the increasingly up-tempo tracks squeeze out their trademark freeform blues singing. This is Gomez’s first album in which Ben Ottewell’s smoky growl fails to provide the best songs, as he suffers in the regulated verse-chorus format. Ian Ball’s rawer vocals now best fit the bill as the band come teasingly close to emulating the popular sounds of oddball indie classic Whippin’ Piccadilly.

If they’re not careful, Gomez could soon become regulars in the top 10, and Marmite will have to find themselves a new soundtrack.


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