Bands have down-time or even split up for a while, but when the time feels right to make a new record the good ones will deliver. Case in point is this new record from The Embrooks. The band originally formed in 1996, split in 2005 and reconvened a couple of years back to record a new 45, the success and positive reaction to which led to this brand new album. We Who Are is the fourth album from the band who comprise of Alessandro Cozzi-Lepri (guitar, vocals), Mole (bass, vocals) and Lois Tozer (drums).
Whether or not the title is a cheeky reference to Messrs Townshend, Daltrey, Entwistle and Moon is unclear. The two bands may share the same three-piece instrumental line-up and much like the mid-'60s Who, The Embrooks make music that mixes hard-driving R&B with a slight experimental edge, but there the similarities and sly references end. This is most definitely an Embrooks album, not a slavish pastiche.
It features the previously mentioned 2016 single 'Nightmare' along with eleven brand new tracks. 'Going But Not Gone' and 'Don't Look At Me' find the band at their garage rock finest, their sound embellished by some nicely reedy keyboards on the former and inspired addition of woodwind on the latter. 'Human Living Vampire' has more of a moody US-garage sound, twelve-string twang and minor chords. 'Have You Ever Loved Somebody' is the album's strongest contender for a single - the sort of track that pirate radio stations would have traded lifeboats for back in the day. It has a chorus that's stickier than Unibond's No More Nails.
'Riot On Kingsland Road' places the action firmly back on terra firma and in 21st century London. It features, flutes, police sirens and the sound of breaking glass along with lyrics about the 2011 riots. 'Baby From The South' is stomper that both highlights the band's debt to R&B and allows Alessandro to indulge in some wild guitar solos. Other standouts include 'Peace Of Mind' which finds the band locked into a hypnotic psych-rock groove, and album-closer 'You Can If You Want' which signs off the record in fine freakbeat style, complete with clattering drums, crashing guitar chords and a wailing harmonica.
It's been a long wait since the band's last album (2004's Yellow Glass Perspections), but in the interim they have been active elsewhere – The Galileo 7, Thee Jezebels, The Baron Four, The Jack Cades are just some of the combos to have benefited from some Embrooks input. As special as each of those bands are, the unique chemistry of The Embrooks is undeniable on We Who Are.
A note for vinyl fans - I'm not sure which pressing plant the label has used but the vinyl copy is a real beauty. Weighing in at a reassuringly chunky 180g and with a quality cut and pressing that labels ten times the size rarely attain. Not only that, the record is housed in a gatefold sleeve and comes with a CD version and download for those that like to listen on the move. Nice work. The Embrooks, we salute you!
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