In 1994, my irrepressible* psychedelic band (*back then, rip-off promoters, total lack of press or record company interest, and poor quality drugs were seen as challenges, compared to today’s climate, where the literal end of the world is a “no” from Simon Cowell) landed a management/publishing deal with Brian Hallin, the long-time manager of The Wedding Present. Although we never got to meet him, Mr H. told us that David Gedge was a thoroughly nice guy; a fact we had no reason to doubt, with John Peel also being frequently vocal in his praise of Mr G. A kind of Indie-everyman. A Mark E Smith you’d let in the house.
Over the years, The Wedding Present has quietly built up a repertoire of wilfully consistent indie-pop songs, despite name-changes, line-up changes, and yes, the fickle changes of the music business. So it’s surprising that this latest release shares some common ground with Beyoncé, in its embracing of the “video-album” concept. Every track has an accompanying film-clip, captured whilst on a U.S. road trip, and there are a sizeable twenty of them.
From the opening tracks (the first four are instrumentals) however, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the old WP template has been traded in for something more post-rock and experimental, with very little evidence of the man himself. It’s not until track five, ‘Two Bridges’, that the trademark sound makes an appearance, but from here-on in things are back on familiar ground – wry, world-weary observations of love, loss and disillusionment, and lots of abrasive guitars. “The pain of failure is so much greater than the pleasure of success” bemoans Gedge on ‘Broken Bow’, an indie-stomp of insecurity and regret. Elsewhere, there are bursts of thrashy angst, like ‘Secretary’ and ‘Birdsnest’, that hark back to the nostalgia of a 90s student moshpit, but also gentler ballads like ‘Emporia’.
Twenty tracks is quite a hefty chunk to take in maybe for today’s ever-shrinking attention-span generation, but if you’re a fan of the band, it could be just the fix and return to form that you didn’t realise your life was lacking. And with this modernist multimedia twist, who’d’ve ever thought we’d find ourselves with “Cutting-Gedge”?