Embrace – Love is a Basic Need
With too many attempts at hitting the biggest of big ballad highs, Love is a Basic Need buckles under the weight of its own ambition too many times
Embrace have always shot for the stars. From day one, the word 'indie' was never going to be big enough for this band. Their first three records hit the target and were stuffed with full-throated anthems, big guitars and Hey Jude-esque fade-outs. Epic? Perhaps, but they never truly found what they were looking for.
Enter Chris Martin. The Coldplay man is a mate of the McNamara brothers and offered them the ballad Gravity for their first 'comeback' in 2004. It was a hit, set Embrace back up for a shot at the title and sent them down a path that they've never truly veered from since. Piano-led and strings-assisted lullabies have become the band's stock-in-trade and moments of rock'n'roll are few and far between on Embrace records this century.
Love is a Basic Need goes even further into reflective territory with singer Danny McNamara hitting the top of his range on every tune. When it works, on the likes of The Finish Line and My Luck Comes in Threes, the band sound like they're flying, but just sometimes you wish they'd try for some light with the shade and perhaps hover for a while. Stand-out track Where You Sleeping pulls this trick off, with guitarist Richard McNamara taking over lead vocal duties, as the tune floats into view on a bed of modern-day U2 production and a tense melody. It's beautiful.
With too many attempts at hitting the biggest of big ballad highs, Love is a Basic Need buckles under the weight of its own ambition too many times. However, there's enough good music here to suggest that one day, the great in Embrace will eventually outweigh the good.
Listen to: Where You Sleeping, My Luck Comes In Threes