How We Operate

Studio Album by released in 2006
How We Operate's tracklist:
Notice
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See the World
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How We Operate
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Hamoa Beach
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Girlshapedlovedrug
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Chasing Ghosts With Alcohol
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Tear Your Love Apart
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Charley Patton Songs
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Woman! Man!
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All Too Much
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Cry on Demand
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Don't Make Me Laugh
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How We Operate review

One of the few bands to contain bluesy elements in its rock

The British band Gomez is a five-piece, consisting of Ben Ottewell (vocals, guitar), Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Blackburn (bass, guitar), Olly Peacock (drums), and Ian Ball (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Whereas the majority of up and coming British bands are either retro-pop (a la Oasis), trip-hop (Portishead), or space rock (the Verve, Radiohead), Gomez is one of the few to contain bluesy elements in their rock. Gomez have tried several tactics. After the smoke-hazed Liquid Skin, a stoned continuation of their debut Bring It On, In Our Gun looked for new horizons in dub and electronic effects. The middling Split the Difference curbed the band’s proggish, whimsical tendencies in favor of curt rockers made for live performance. And so, on to 2006’s How We Operate, which has what sounds like the most individually-composed songs the band has recorded, dropping the freewheeling, collaborative jamming for fully conceived songwriting. The resulting tastiness is unwonted in pop music and occasionally breathtaking: seductive without recourse to sex, mellifluous without melisma, ballsy without bravado.

The finest and most listener-friendly album

After self-producing all five of its studio albums, Gomez enlisted outsider Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters) to energize its new tunes. Norton's adroit knack for fully realizing the potential of the raw material has made all the difference on How We Operate, the finest and most listener-friendly album of Gomez's 10-year career. The disc buoys with clipping rhythms, infectious lyricism, country infusions and distinctive vocal harmonies by its trio of songwriting, acoustic/electric guitar-wielding frontmen. The fact that the three equitably share the lead spotlight is remarkable in and of itself. But what makes How We Operate so exceptional is the simple brilliance of the songs, ranging from the two catchy leadoff tracks, Notice and See the World, to the reflective Charley Patton Songs, with its pleasing arc of pop arrangement. There's not a wasted song or filler track. It's hard to pick a favorite with so many killer pop hooks lurking behind every bridge. At their best, Gomez fuse the perfect pop of The Beatles and bar blues of The Rolling Stones. The songs are full of ingenious little hooks, fine singing, poetics and to-the-point lyrics, and cool guitars. This is the sound of a band sitting around facing one another and concentrating on writing and executing songs that stand the test of time, using multiple songwriters of equal gift and merit.

This is most certainly a Gomez record

There's always been something a little mysterious about Gomez. Yet no one would mistake them for a dream-pop or shoegazer act. The UK quintet relies too much on acoustic instrumentation (violin, mandolin, harmonica, etc.) and rocks too hard to qualify. In fact, they've never been part of any "scene," British or otherwise. Their debut for Dave Matthews's ATO label isn't an about-face and it's unlikely fans will feel betrayed by the shift, but it does represent the most direct expression of their artistry yet. It's as if they peeled away a layer or two in order to reveal more of the pop band beneath the off-kilter country-rock trappings. How We Operate is strong, focused, and a complete pleasure to engage. The experimentalism brought into play on their other albums is here, though the textures, tempos, and frameworks are significantly other. Above all, this is most certainly a Gomez record, one they couldn't possibly have created earlier; its maturity and confidence offer a new dimension to a sound that's already full of complexity, paradox, and a pronounced, now intractable, identity.