For their latest album, Gomez, like a lot of bands, have gone in with the digital technology crowd; Whatever’s on Your Mind was demoed, and by extension, written, over the Web, each of the members uploading ideas on which the others could reflect. Like any of these projects, then, the question — quite aside from the quality of the music — always seems to come down to the effect this working process had on the sound; surely, given the relative independence of Gomez’s members, and given that they don’t really have a leader but three singers and four songwriters out of five members, this album will deliver a radically different band?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t: the working practices might have had some novelty but there isn’t much novelty to Whatever’s On Your Mind. In fact, given that Gomez have been going for 15 years now, it’s a surprise that, as with their other albums, it all sounds much alike.
But is it a bad album? Certainly not. Like the rest of the band’s albums released in that time – there’s been seven studio releases, plus two compilations and a live album – it’s fair to say that Whatever’s On Your Mind is strong, listenable, often emotional as well as catchy, and holds up to scrutiny.
The album’s opener “Options” is as good of a track as any Gomez have produced, and with nicely unassuming lyrics (“I could settle down, be responsible, be a good man, and learn how to fix things baby, and that’s ok: at least I’ve got options”) and mildly aggressive acoustic guitar work, it succeeds. It may just be the album’s takeaway track.
Of course, a Gomez album wouldn’t be complete without the famously raspy vocals of Ben Ottewell, and “Equalize”, a semi-eccentric rocker, more than delivers; so too does the more sentimental, play-a-piano led title track. For sure, as with the band’s albums of yesteryear, Whatever’s on Your Mind has plenty of enjoyable tracks, and none to complain about: “That Wolf” is one of the stronger instances, with “Place and the People” not too far behind.
Nothing stands out too much, though, and that’s a trait it shares with the rest of the band’s ouvre. Nonetheless, this is another good effort from a great band who are coming close to veteran status.