It struck me initially, like a brick hitting my head from two feet away, as a very bad idea for the wonderful and historically hippy-trippy British collective Gomez, to have signed to Dave Matthews’ label to make a pop record. Together with spiritual brethren The Beta Band, for almost a decade the two bands owned there own genre in my library: stoney, groove-laden, indie rock. But as the Beta Band struggled to recapture the infectiousness of the debut “Three-EP’s” collection, Gomez migrated further along the pop spectrum but never in such a overt way as this. With a way of never seeming too out there, but just enough off the beaten path, there was no need to compromise – just keep evolving.
But sitting here, gazing out at a near perfect July day, I have to confess that besides a few songs that sound almost too perfect to become attached to in any kind of long-term way, “How We Operate” is something rather special. This is a warm pop record that drifts along like part Wilco, part Beth Orton, and part David Gray. But all of this familiarly still exists in that unique framework that Gomez began fashioning years ago. There is not much to criticize here, unless you believe that guilty pleasures in music are for the weak of heart. This is a summer record both impeccably produced and artfully composed. I guess we are all growing up and as they croon gloriously and insightfully on “Charley Patton Songs,” the band singals that they are they are “old enough to know how .. and young enough to still try.”
9 out 10