The Wave Pictures are one of the most prolific bands around at the moment. Most modern artists put out one album every two or three years, but this three-piece manage to keep churning out records, year after year. ‘City Forgiveness’ is their thirteenth album since their self-released debut back in 2003. At this point it would be an understandable assumption to think that surely The Wave Pictures’ discography is all about quantity, not quality. Although fair, the assumption could not be more wrong.
Last year the band embarked on a six-week US tour. Vocalist David Tattersall wrote down “anything that popped into [his] head”, and the result was a collection of songs which eventually formed ‘City Forgiveness’. At just over an hour and a half and spanning two CDs, this is a colossal album by anyone’s standards. Again, somehow no quality is lost in the huge quantity.
Lyrically, ‘City Forgiveness’ somewhat reflects the troubles of touring so far away from home. Many of the songs deal with missing home, and distant memories. The opening song, ‘All My Friends’, sets a surprisingly dark tone for the album with the poignant line “All my friends are going to be strangers / All my friends are going to get strange”. Presumably this is a reflection on Tattersall’s feelings of missing home and worrying that things will have drastically changed by the time of the band’s return home.
As expected, the album boasts more of The Wave Pictures signature jangly-pop sound: very slightly distorted guitars, clean bass, driving rhythms and extremely catchy melodies. The album’s first single, ‘Lisbon’, is a great example of this. The tune is delivered in Tattersall’s classic style – nonchalant, whiny, yet still compelling. This pushed forward by the understated, rolling drum beat and plodding bass line. All the while the guitar fills in spiky chords and pulls off an extremely impressive solo showcasing technical competence, a rarity in many “indie-pop” bands.
The highlight of ‘City Forgiveness’ is the penultimate track, ‘Golden Syrup’. It’s a heartbreaking, introverted song about the regrets and difficulties of the past. Full of melancholic wit, it really demonstrates the band’s lyrical ingenuity: “And you remember I enjoyed the anxiety / It went on joylessly, joylessly like the nineteen-nineties”.
‘City Forgiveness’ is another demonstration of what a consistently brilliant band the Loughborough three-piece are. With an overall darker tone than some of their previous albums, and its extended length, this is a record which has more to give on each listen. It’s been ten years since their self-released debut, but The Wave Pictures are still very much on form.