Out of Nothing
Once upon a time, a little piano player named Chris Martin had dreams of writing songs like his heroes did in bands like U2, Oasis, Ash, and Embrace. These British exports had highly variable rates of career success overseas, but it was perhaps the least successful export of the four that Martin pilfered from the most. Good for him. Of course were talking about a day back in 1998 when Embrace had their debut album The Good Will Out rise to the top of the UK charts. This was a piano driven album of ballads and sweeping choruses with a bit of Brit-pop requisite heavy guitar mixed in for good measure. A few years later, young Chris would get a few musicians together, and his band Coldplay opened up for Embrace a few times, but Embraces days seemed numbered; and soon after, the band split.
What a difference a few years can make. Coldplay is now arguably the biggest rock band of its generation, and Embrace couldnt even get a record deal. Well, lets just say that Chris Martin returned the favor. He wrote the lead single Gravity on Out Of Nothing specifically to give Embrace a new record deal, allowing them to work with famed producer, Youth. Martins efforts helped the band see the top of the UK charts once more in 2004. With such a story behind Out Of Nothing, I was hesitant to fork down $30 for an import copy, because it could easily be nothing more than a one hit wonder.
Well color me impressed when the anthemic Gravity turned out to be one of the weakest tracks on the new U.S. release of Out of Nothing. Embraces early discography is practically irrelevant when you hear how good this new album is. Ive never heard an album with more sweeping choruses and carefully orchestrated emotional buildups. The album kicks off with Ashes, a song that U2 would probably commit hate crimes for at this stage in its career. It has a little bit of Edge-y guitar rolling into a piano gospel chorus about, well, rising from the ashes of your past. They dont even mix in the heavy drums until after the first chorus, and the track knocks you out before the delicate piano build of Gravity lets you stop and catch your breath.
Every lyric on this album is succinct and evocative. The themes on Out Of Nothing arent new, but just like Coldplay, Embrace convinces you that they are sincere. The albums ridiculous opening is practically upstaged by one of the later tracks too. A Glorious Day is simply incredible. The song could be sung in a church or a stadium or at the top of your lungs in the shower, and in any of those locations, it would be difficult not to feel moved. If Out of Nothing has a fault, I guess it is simply that it falls within the everyman realm of Coldplay rock. This certainly is not what every LOTD reader may be looking for. But for a band that helped invent Coldplays style of stadium rock, to transcend the genre once again in this fashion is remarkable. Album of the year? Its up there.
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