The Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band On Acid
This starts nicely with a swift ambient fade-in, quickly superseded by a typical foursquare "Embrace b-side rhythm", which is faintly disappointing after the quckening pulse of just about everything on the album. Danny's vocals also seem considerably less puff-chested than they have of late; he needs the backing singers (very Black Grape, and not in a good way, says Karim) to carry him through the chorus, their “down down down” refrain a little less mystical than “Fools Gold”, shall we say. The middle eight is more interesting though, but its emergence highlights the song's essential structural obviousness – verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus-end. On the plus side, it's a nice groove from Steve, and Rik's painting some nice textures in the aisles behind the vocals. There's a good fake ending, guitar squalls and drum bashes. Lyrically it's OK, but nothing more. Torpid indie-gospel, I guess. Not in danger of overshadowing anything on the album, and wouldn't have got on Dry Kids either.
Interesting opening with shivers of guitar and Danny intoning "Colliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide" in mildly psychedelic fashion before the verse emerges and is stolen almost wholesale, melodically, from "Vertigo" by U2. The groove is again efficient but not spectacular. Lyrically though it's verging on great - "The memory is salt rubbed in my eyes / My love is like a bird that dreams of flight", talk several times of broken glass reflecting “a million different sides”, someone breaking down doors. And all over in 3 minutes, almost before you've got a handle on it, which is a shame – had they kicked off for another minute or more at the end, brought the noise or the disco, it could have been a contender.
Abysmal, sub-Starsailor title aside, this also isn't too bad. But neither is it too good. The intro really reminds me of something but I can't place it. Possibly Guns ‘N’ Roses? Another nice fake ending, another efficient but uninspiring groove; these b-sides are a snapshot of Embrace in the gym, learning to be muscular. More twists and turns in the tune here than on its bedfellows, but even so it's pretty unspectacular. I’d wager from the recording quality that they were recorded in Rik’s studio rather than somewhere like Olympic. Again the lyrics are pretty good – less anxious than the single itself, for instance. What the choices of b-side here do mean, however, is that we're being saved things like "Contender" and "Heart & Soul" for the next album proper, which bodes very, very well. I probably shouldn’t talk about “Contender” when people haven’t even heard “Sainted” properly yet, but it really was jaw-dropping.
Nature's Law (Draft One)
And so the first of the alternate versions of the single that I’ve heard – including this as a download is both clever from a sales point of view and very interesting, because it allows fans a peek into the songwriting process that we would never normally get. So what’s different? The lyrics, for a start, are shown to have been almost completely rewritten for the final version – they’re much more personal, Danny referring directly to a “she” (“She can run all her life / All mine I will chase” – “Nature made her and she made her thorns”). The lyrics that we now know as the middle eight as sung by Rik actually make up the chorus here… the rest I’ll leave so that you can hear them fresh. Karim said it reminded him of “New Adam New Eve”, and there is a slight desperation to that end. Musically I’ve grown fond of the final version – I love the drama of the strings and the piano underneath the bridge, and while the lyrics at first appear non-specific once you align yourself with them they are as any other set of lyrics – what you make of them. The dramatics of the strings are totally absent here, which shows up the quality of the underlying tune itself. I’m eager to here the demo and instrumental versions. But more eager to hear “Contender” again.