I remember West Yorkshire-based five-piece, Embrace (not to be confused with the hardcore punk band of the same name) breaking on to the scene just as Britpop was on the wane. Their debut album, “The good will out”, blended the stadium ready trad rock of Oasis with the grandiose, orchestra compatible sound of The Verve’s “Urban hymns”. So, yes, it was big. And their sound, combined with their honest, almost to the point of trite sounding songwriting, created just as much animosity towards them as it did fans. For my own part, I had drunk the Britpop kool-aid years before so, of course, I loved it.
“Drawn from memory”, the second album by the band, was a lot more toned down and stripped back and I’m not sure if it was that or the continuing Britpop backlash but it did nowhere as well as the debut. For their third album, the brothers McNamara and company tried to mix the best of what worked for the first two albums and it resulted in what I think is their least successful work. However, “If you’ve never been” is not without its bright spots. In my opinion, “Wonder” is definitely one of these.
If you’ve never listened to the group before, you might listen to the song and think: “Man, these guys are riding the coattails of Travis or Keane or early Coldplay”. In actuality, it was the other way around. Much like other songs that could be tersely termed ‘adult alternative’, “Wonder” is inoffensive music that cannot quite be slid into pop territory. It’s big but not too big, espousing a singalong feel and foot tapping beat. And its got this guitar effect that sounds like its moving back and forth between your earphones, almost willing you to sway your head back and forth and mouth the “la la la”s on the bus commute to work.
Yeah. It’s that kind of song. Perfect for a hump day like today.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.