Album review: "Whatever's on Your Mind"
Describing “Whatever’s on Your Mind” as “engaging” isn’t exactly high praise for a veteran British indie band known for eclectic tastes and a venturesome spirit. But if you’re looking for Gomez to deliver something more substantial on its seventh studio recording, be prepared to settle for less.
Take the horn-powered shuffle of album opener “Options.” It’s a disarming slice of pop-rock, catchy and clever and likely to inspire boisterous singalongs in concert. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but it’s nothing particularly distinctive, either.
From there, the music often becomes lush and curiously layered, with Ian Ball, Tom Gray and Ben Ottewell sharing lead vocals and harmonies. Once again Ottewell comes across as the quintet’s most soulful asset, and there’s no denying the skill with which the band smartly synthesizes pop, rock, blues, folk, dancehall and electronica. Yes, when everything clicks — on the pulsating “Song in My Heart” and the rhapsodic “That Wolf,” for instance — this stuff is engaging, all right.
For an album that’s the product of a long-distance affair — the band members exchanged ideas and demos online for months before recording in Charlottesville — “Whatever’s on Your Mind” is surprisingly cohesive, too. Missing in the mix, though, are songs that are more compelling than quirky.
— Mike Joyce, July 15, 2011