He’s been at this for some 25 odd years already, give or take, so why is it that David Gedge and whoever else is joining him in The Wedding Present at the moment, still sound as timeless, as visceral, and as out of step with the music world around them as they did back when they self-released George Best in 1987? Over the course of eight albums, countless line-up changes, side projects and other diversions, The Wedding Present has aged as gracefully as fine wine (albeit with the biting, bitter after taste of vinegar), and continue to do so with Valentina.
Status quo is the order of the day in all but the current lineup (bassist Pep le Moko steps into the place vacated by Terry de Castro, while co-writer Graeme Ramsay remains in place on guitars and piano, along with Charles Layton on drums); this Wedding Present sounds a lot like the other Wedding Presents, but in 2012, there’s a hint of nostalgia to their abrasive, guitar-driven work outs. There’s a vintage patina on songs like opener “You’re Dead” and lead single “You Jane” that’s alluring, combining the indie-pop melodicism of their early work and the caustic clattering noise of their seminal work with Steve Albini. Lyrically, Gedge is still the master of of all things love: the longing; the lusting; the lashing out; the lasciviousness; the “one-last-time-for-old-time’s-sake”. Unlike some of his early 80s contemporaries, Gedge manages to find new angles each time he goes back to mine familiar territory. It shouldn’t still work as well as it does after two decades, but “Dear Caught in the Headlights” will leave you as stunned as it’s namesake. His trademark wit intact, his snarly delivery just as vitriolic, Gedge goes right to the heart of the matter. He may sing “The closer I get get to you/The further I get away from me/the person that I used to be” on “End Credits”, but Valentina is all quintessential Gedge.
Odd though, with such a tight, vivid new album, The Wedding Present are spending their time revisiting the past by touring North America with a song-for-song recreation of 1991’s Seamonsters. It’s a classic album, fair enough, but Valentina doesn’t deserve to be released in the shadow of past glories like an unplanned newborn ignored in favour of an older sibling. I hope that more than just a couple of these new songs make it into the 40 minute set of “other music” that will be performed at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern this Sunday night, because I would hate to wait for the 2032 20th anniversary tour of Valentina to hear a 72 year-old David Gedge air these songs live.
Don’t for a minute think it’s not going to happen.
Valentina was released yesterday, March 20, 2012, on the band’s own Scopitones label. Pick it up at all finer music retailers, online and in person.
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