Review Summary: A prime example of the flaws of the genre.
Post-Britpop has been one of the most popular and unoriginal genres in the past decade. Ever since the colossal explosion of bands like Oasis, Pulp, Suede and Blur, there's been a plethora of 2000s bands trying to ride on the success of catchy, highly British, guitar-led music. A few bands have broken through and found enormous success in this genre, such as Coldplay and Travis.
Embrace was somewhat successful in the early 2000s, and their new EP is similar to the music they've been playing throughout their whole career. Growth is not something regularly expected of alternative rock bands with a commercial sound. However, not only is their sound analogous to other records (and even other burgeoning alt-rock bands), but within their new EP, songs meld together with unoriginality. The title track, "Refugees," screams a similar uplifting tone to "Decades." "Refugees" manages to be a pretty yet highly generic and dispassionate token ballad. Its uninteresting piano intro fades into twinkling synths and the falsetto of Richard McNamara. It builds up like most inspiriting songs of its kin, to a driving rock tone backed by loud synths and guitars yet soft vocals. Apart from its unoriginality, "Refugees" falters because of its cringe-worthy lyrics. "Like Bonnie & Clyde except we don't die tonight," Richard Mcnamara croons at the start of the track in an attempt to sound emotive and sentimental, yet only coming off as meretricious.
Track 2, "Chameleon," is no better; it again treads water in a sea of conventional Post-Britpop songs. Its upbeat midsection is more interesting than most of the track, yet its uninspired chord progression drags it down. It follows the same format as "Refugees": a subdued piano intro shaping up to an arena-rock ready sing-along. The laziness of songwriting is apparent; it's again a cookie-cutter alt-rock tune.
Not unit the final track, "Bullets," does the EP shows some hope for the band. Again, its a dynamic-led ballad, but it doesn't seem as kitschy this time. Maybe it's because it never reaches its full climax until near the end, instead of peaking in the middle, leaving the rest of the track to wander aimlessly. Another strength is its length; unlike "Refugees," it doesn't overstay its welcome with repetitive choruses. Its clearly the best arranged song on the EP, despite still having an unoriginal chord progression.
The wave of 21st century bands attempting to be as successful as their 90s predecessors are spearheaded by some worthwhile groups. Unfortunately, Embrace's new EP does not show any growth nor much originality. It's still the same affecting ballads we've all heard, with plain piano leads and transparent lyrics. But "Bullets" is a ray of light, showing the band breaking out of their shell, or as much as a band like them could. Cleverly arranged yet still somewhat generic, "Bullets" doesn't feel like they're trying to churn out hits, instead trying to be a worthwhile act who can write solid music.