Album – Last Embrace (Deluxe Edition) – Northern Room

Posted by admin on December 20th, 2007

I received both the Last Embrace and Only Seconds EPs a few weeks ago and have to admit I was in a bit of a dilemma. When approaching a new band, I like having the opportunity of listening to earlier releases, as well as the latest one, to give me an indication of how the band has developed. Unfortunately sometimes it’s hard for me to not review both at the same time. While pondering this, I heard back from the band that they’d just released a new deluxe version of Last Embrace, which in effect combined both of the EPs, added some live acoustic songs and a bonus track, making to all intents and purposes a full album. This solved my dilemma and also gave me the opportunity of hearing even more tracks from this excellent band.

The album opens up with “We’re on Fire”, which very much defines the Northern Room sound, sounding at times a cross between Indie Launchpad favourites Black Labs, and Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers. There’s a real sense of a band who are extremely comfortable playing together and also a real confidence that shines through. This is a cracking track to begin the album with. This sound carries over into “For All These Years” and although the sound is familiar, it’s a sound that really gels well with me and is carried over the next two tracks “Galaxy” and “Dutch Radio”. “Stars of God” slows things down somewhat and really gives the lead vocals a chance to shine. There’s also a wonderful orchestral arrangement that floats in and out to dramatic effect. This track for me is just sheer magic.

“Last Embrace” the title track, actually features twice, once as a studio cut and one as a live cut. Again, I’m not sure if it’s me being a finicky git, or whether my expectations are unrealistic, but I always like a title track to be a kind of backbone for the rest of the tracks to lean on. While “Last Embrace” is a pleasant track, it’s not that killer track that I like to find. “We’re on Fire” would have been a much better track, but I can understand the title, wouldn’t really sit well as an album/extended EP title. “Waiting” and “Let Me Out” are similar kinds of tracks and though I hate to say it, they feel very much like filler tracks. However putting it into context they are still very good tracks, but it probably has a lot to do with the running order of the tracks. The album opens very strongly and I think this makes it harder for the later tracks.

The album begins to turn around again with “Everyday”, but dips again a little with “This Wreckage”, which feels very lacadasical and rambling. With the studio tracks now over, the album takes a slight change of direction with 3 live, acoustic tracks. “Last Embrace” is the live version of the title track and even live, it does little to change my opinion. It does however show the bands musical prowess and sounds exceptionally good, for live material. “A Witness” is a live track that has no accompanying studio version. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric track, which while could be considered a bit of a rambling track, at least musically, but when the vocals kick in, it takes the track in a whole new direction. Again for live material, this is very nicely done. “We’re on Fire” closes the live tracks, as it opened the studio tracks, and the live version is every bit as good. It has a very different feel to it, being more laid back, rather than the rock flavoured original, but it’s every bit as good, if not better.

Closing off the album is “Home”, a gargantuan 11 minute track, that I thought may have been added just to pad the album out. Upon listening however, this thought simply evaporated. Fairly conventional to begin with, but at around the 4 minute mark, the track goes off in a dreamy, ambient direction, that really reminded me of the best in repetition. I always feel I have to add, here I mean repetition in the best sense of the word. Think of the organ segment in the Who’s, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, or Pink Floyd’s, Echos. Truly outstanding.

Conclusion : Whilst I loved the individual EPs, together as an album with all the extras, it’s a fantastic body of work that I’m sure will capture the attention of a legion of new fans, while providing enough new and interesting stuff for existing fans who have already bought the previous 2 EPs.

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