Out of Nothing is the fourth studio album by English rock band Embrace. It was released on 13 September 2004 through Independiente Records. It went straight in at number one on the official UK charts, going double platinum, selling more than 600,000 copies in the UK, making it their best selling album and their most critically acclaimed since their debut album The Good Will Out. It was a much-anticipated release, as Embrace had not released any new material for three years.
After the release of Embrace's third album, 2001's If You've Never Been, which debuted at number 9 on the UK charts and dropped off completely after three weeks, the band were dropped by their record label, Hut, in 2002. Though they were almost immediately picked up thereafter by Independiente, whose founder and managing director, Andy MacDonald, was a long-time fan of the band, Embrace admittedly had a lot of writing and recording to do before they would have enough quality material for a fourth album.
For two years, Embrace wrote and recorded songs on tape, resulting in an immense amount of possible album material, 500 "songs and half-songs" compiled on 52 C90 tapes. In December 2003, after four listening sessions spread over two years, MacDonald finally gave the go-ahead to the band to begin recording for their next album. Later that month, Embrace played three secret gigs as "The Good Good People" at Leeds' Cockpit to "road test" the new material in preparation for recording.
The band brought in Youth to produce, having had good experiences with his production on singles All You Good Good People and Come Back to What You Know from their first album, The Good Will Out. Most of the band were excited about the effect that bringing new leadership into the studio was having on their music, but Danny McNamara, the band's lead singer, had a tough time adjusting to Youth's production style: "January, February and March this year were the hardest time of my life. I was getting four hours sleep a night. Every morning I'd get up and have to take a pill just to stay calm that day. The amount of arguments and throwing shit...It was really intense." Youth changed McNamara's song structures, his lyrics, and pushed him to sing with more emotion. Said McNamara: "There were times I hated him. I'd ring our manager and have meetings with the label, where I'd say, 'Look, can you tell him who's boss? 'Cause he's not listening to me.'" Thankfully, the label kept its position that Youth was in charge, because gradually, things started to click between the band and its producer. McNamara eventually changed his tune, saying, "I think I've grown as a person...the idea of relinquishing control and just having a bit of belief and faith in someone else is new to me in my thirty-three years. And it's paid off. I've left my ego at the door." Several songs began to take shape and sound that had previously eluded the band.
Out of the 500 possibilities, the band eventually narrowed the list of potential album cuts down to fifteen songs, and then finally decided on the best ten. These included "Ashes," which started life in 2001 as a piano-driven ballad and eventually took the form of a four-minute long anthem of a pop song, "Someday," whose verse was written in 1997 and waited seven years for the rest of the song to show up, and "Everytime I See Your Face," a song that would never see the light of public release. This was due to the addition of "Gravity," a Coldplay-penned composition that Chris Martin (good friend of Danny McNamara) gifted to Embrace after Martin decided that the song sounded a bit more like Embrace than it did Coldplay. "Everytime I See Your Face" was dropped from the album, and "Gravity" not only found itself on Out of Nothing but also in the role of comeback single, being Independiente's preferred choice over "Ashes," which had been the album's intended first single before the introduction of "Gravity." Danny McNamara referred to this decision as the "sexy angle."
The last two songs on the album, "Near Life" and the title track, were Embrace's first attempts at songwriting as a band. The success the band experienced in this process led to their next album, This New Day, being almost entirely composed of full-band compositions.