Gomez’ move to ATO Records before 2006’s How We Operate seemed to signal the last time anyone would care about the band; the switch suggested more emphasis on its bluesy touch and a re-tailoring for the jam-band circuit, both of which would have made Gomez immediately irrelevant. Instead, How We Operate surprised with meticulously thoughtful, varied pop gems that achieved much by not trying to achieve anything in particular. Given how well the album worked, it’s odd that on A New Tide, Gomez unnecessarily attempts to return to its early days. Was anyone really pining that hard to get the old Gomez back? Recorded in Chicago and Charlottesville, Virginia, A New Tide cobbles together elements of those scenes, but it ultimately lacks identity; it strives for diversity at the cost of imagination and quality songwriting. Gomez knows how to lay down a cool, crisp acoustic folk tune, and the rolling “Mix” and affecting “Bone Tired” start with promise before bland vocal accompaniment burdens the guitar-work with dead weight. From tired anthem-choruses to light pop bordering on warbling coffee-shop humdrum, the record dulls its edges and leaves its best riffs hung out to dry. With one notable exception— the bouncy “Airstream Driver” gives respite as the album’s simplest, most spirited effort—Gomez’ attempt to rediscover itself has landed it in a no-man’s-land devoid of many good ideas.
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