Gomez Split the Difference (Hut) Until The Coral burst on to the scene three years ago, Gomez were the principal rag and bone men of British rock, carting around their bits of musical junk and somehow arranging it all into gleaming, catchy pop. The five piece's winning formula - which owes a fair bit to Beck's ramshackle Odelay! days - hit an immediate high note when their 1998 debut, Bring it On, bagged them the Mercury Music Prize. Despite bearing closer resemblance to the Milky Bar Kid than a Credence Clearwater-era groover, Ben Ottewell's voice of gravel and devilish slide guitar transported the listener to the deep swamps of the southern US, while around him hung a pop/rock sensibility that has barely been tinkered with since. Split the Difference alchemizes Gomez' typically psychedelic folk-rock, with the opening trio setting things up particularly well. Raucous, growling opener Do One is followed by the frantic strum-along, bicycle chase of These 3 Sins, while Silence and Where Ya Going shows the band in a mood to turn up the speakers and just play, stripping the sound of its usual knob- twiddling finesse. Me, You and Everybody's three- way harmonies show them at their campfire-burning best. The album stutters when the band seems to suddenly lose direction and the wind drops out of their sails, and the occasional stinker can be found between clusters of winning tunes. Fittingly, the prime suspect in this case is four and a half minutes of military beat nonsense entitled We Don't Know Where We're Going.