The Wedding Present have a considerable discography, but this album is not 1989’s Bizarro. They have evolved, perhaps inevitably so considering that David Gedge is the only remaining founding member. Whether a fan of their early works (suggested listening: ‘Kennedy’ by Japanese band Toquiwa), hate their first three albums, or have never listened to them before, objectively, one can be assured that this is a good band that have persevered since 1985 (discounting their seven-year break) and importantly this album at least deserves to be heard.
Kittery starts off somewhat in the vein of the bleak, hazy low-saturation dull hues of the album cover, a road peaking to a blind summit giving the impression of disappearing into the sky on a cloudy, grey day. As the starting song at 5:33, it is the second longest track on the album, but just over halfway through it suddenly swells forth to birth these full, lush barre chords that really owe much of their emotional impact not just to the juxtaposition of opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum dynamics, but also the production and mixing. Think of the warm charm distortion fuzz characteristic of the great lo-fi indie rock bands of the nineties.
Two Bridges, a little more familiar-sounding perhaps. The instrumental pause for a double clap is a touch sure to make listeners smile; much thought has been put into the minor details. Secretary is fast-paced and conveys frustration and anxiety sandwiching a free-and-easy chorus of different colour and texture. Greenland is experimental with sparse samples, field recordings and percussion leaving a lot of welcome breathing room.
Then there is Bear, a prime example of well-established song ideas executed at top level. It features solo verse lines sung by Gedge accompanied by the clean strumming of one guitar, walking bass lines and good old drum kit percussion as such – “But the thing I miss the most is the thing I didn’t notice; that you’re my best friend … You’d put up with me nearly to the point where you’d be really at your wits’ end”
Thus begins its progressive build up with the adding of palm-muted chords and a simple melodic addition to a simple “Do do do” call-and-response segueing to a sweet parallel male-female harmony. And then those beautiful fuzz guitars kick in with power chords. Relying on popular song structure, this chorus goes back to the verse, progressing to the chorus a second time with Gedge harmonising over himself. Bands aiming to be interesting and include plenty in their music to offer the listener ought out to take a leaf out of TWP’s book, especially in regards to this song. A lot is done within relatively tight confines, everything still belonging to the main theme of the song.
Perhaps this album is formulaic, but it works. Every song is different and the dynamics keep it interesting for the entire 77 minutes (yes, you read that correctly … 77 minutes). This could be The Wedding Present’s best album since their break.
‘Going, Going…’ is out now via Scopitones
This Wedding Present article was written by Fabian Basker, a GIGsoup contributor