Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. This time around, we’re receiving a blast from the past in the form of a new reissue from UK indie stalwarts Gomez.
When ‘Bring It On’, Gomez’s 1998 debut, hit the scene more than two decades ago, it must have come as a breath of fresh air. Although it is to a degree a product of its time, the album shines even now by virtue of its sheer imagination and quality of execution. 1999’s rapidly-delivered follow-up, ‘Liquid Skin’, must have seemed no less of a joy upon its original release, not only for its quality but also for the fact that it successfully expanded upon a wildly successful debut so soon after its release. Reissued for its twentieth anniversary, ‘Liquid Skin’s intricate soundscapes and thickly layered arrangements feel no less intoxicating now than they must have then. Compared with their rootsy, folk-blues influenced debut, their sophomore outing is heavier on electronics and glitchy drum machines, giving the album a distinctly different mood to its predecessor. The tone here is a heady one, and superb production and arrangements only embellish this further. The album was a substantial success upon its original release and remains a firm fan favourite to this day, with ‘Revolutionary Kind’ and ‘We Haven’t Turned Around’ particular highlights, the latter’s Floydian delights making for the band’s one true lighters-in-the-air moment.
‘Liquid Skin’ received a one-time vinyl pressing upon its original release but hasn’t been available on the format since. Record sales were sluggish at the time, so original pressings have long been a scarcity demanding uncomfortably high premiums. This new twentieth anniversary reissue, then, provides the first opportunity most – even long-term fans – will have had to acquire the album on wax. Much like the 2018 reissue of ‘Bring It On’ (reviewed for Vinyl Corner here), this reissue has been pressed by France’s MPO. They’re an in-demand manufacturer and their output is usually excellent, but they’re not above producing the occasional duffer. This reissue is available in both standard black and limited edition transparent vinyl; we’re reviewing the latter here, but both should sound the same. Initial signs are promising on this release. The milky clear vinyl looks fantastic and both discs are substantial slabs of heavyweight wax. They also sit flat and warp-free on the platter when spinning, which isn’t necessarily something that can be taken for granted with new vinyl releases anymore. Upon playback, we did notice some moderate surface noise on side A; with this, the stylus was lifted and the record was given a thorough cleaning. Playback improved considerably after that, with only a very minor noise floor just-audibly coming through during a few of the quieter sections. While it isn’t ideal for the cleaning of new LPs to be a necessity, it is an increasingly common requirement, so ‘Liquid Skin’ certainly isn’t alone here. In general, playback is really tidy once the necessary preparations have been made, with sound free of pops and clicks and bearing only a few unobtrusive background crackles now and then. Sonically, this reissue is a treat; clearly the album was well recorded in the first place but, even so, this rerelease shines. It was remastered at Abbey Road and that process has brought out every last detail in the soundscape. The guitars shimmer with detail, the vocals swoop and soar realistically and the drum parts burst through the mix with huge presence.
Just as with last year’s reissue of ‘Bring It On’, the twentieth anniversary outing of ‘Liquid Skin’ faithfully reproduces the sumptuous packaging of the original release. The fantastic cover art is presented in beautiful form here, with rich colours and excellent image quality. The layout and art direction is extremely slick and remains near-identical to the original release. The sleeve is gatefold but not designed in the traditional way. It is a unipak design – a rare form of sleeve where the record pocket opens inwards, towards the spine. The textured cardstock used to produce the sleeve adds a pleasing extra dimension to the physical presentation and the inclusion of two good quality printed card inner sleeves is also a welcome bonus. It would have been nice had these sleeves included lyrics instead of just images but they replicate those of the original release, which is ultimately the right decision. The labels also accurately reproduce those of the original release, so full marks should be given to the presentation of this reissue for remaining so faithful to the first pressing. A download code is also included.
This is a great reissue of a long in-demand album. Once the records have been cleaned, playback becomes tidy and highly enjoyable throughout, and the sonics are superb. Packaging and presentation is also excellent and, all in all, this comes as a highly recommended reissue.
Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at email@example.com – it would be great to hear from you!