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Embrace - Refugees EP (Review)

Embrace, Refugees EP

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

THE Embrace comeback gains serious momentum with the release of their first EP of new material in seven years.

Refugee is the sound of a band doing things big. All of the four tracks are massive in their own way… songs that aim for the anthemic and almost instantly attain that status.

What’s more, the slow ballad style for which they eventually became synonymous in their heyday has been cast aside for a more robust sound that nods to their All You Good Good People style, as well as acts like U2, Editors and, yes, Coldplay too.

Title track and EP opener Refugees is an instantly catchy track that launches into a huge anthemic chorus with vocals from both McNamara brothers, backed by electro beats and epic guitars. The mix is pretty invigorating too… the electronic undercurrent lending the Embrace sound an urgency that has, perhaps, not always been apparent in their songwriting. The guitars, meanwhile, providing a blistering, U2-style accompaniment. The moody vocals are stirring too. It’s an emphatic way to announce your return.

The rest of the EP doesn’t disappoint either. Chameleon opens amid a flurry of acoustic guitar strums and sombre piano chords, as well as some Depeche Mode-esque electronics, to once again instantly grab the attention. The vocals, too, are extremely moody early on, giving the Embrace sound extra grit. The layered chorus is chant-worthy and stadium-sized in focus.

Decades is a more straight-forward pile-driver of a track but similarly anthemic and just as catchy, while there’s a great sense of atmospheric slow build on the edgy Bullets, a Bono-esque moment vocally if ever there was one (albeit something that morphs into a Chris Martin-style finale), complete with emotive lyrics such as “forgive the devil his dirty tricks”. By the time it reaches its epic conclusion, it’s another classic.

Welcome back Embrace… it’s been well worth the wait. Can we have more of the same when the eponymous album lands in April?

Watch the video for Refugees:

Track listing:

  1. Refugees
  2. Chameleon
  3. Decades
  4. Bullets