Release Date: Sep 2, 2016
Record label: Scopitones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Indie legends produce their second-era magnum opus From a band that once strictly limited their sets of heart-rending thrash-indie about teen angst and extramarital intrigue to one hour, no encore, a 75-minute ninth album opening with four ponderous post-rock instrumentals based on shipping forecasts and Gallic chorales seems a provocative move. .
The Wedding Present’s David Gedge is forever pegged as one of the archetypal English indie-pop icons, yet several of his band’s key releases, including Seamonsters and the underrated Watusi, were recorded in the US and clearly influenced by the American alt.rock scene. This ninth LP, Going, Going…, was recorded in France and the UK, though the US is again central to the plot. Arguably the Weddoes’ most ambitious outing yet, it’s a (cough) 20-track concept LP of sorts based around a Jack Kerouac-esque coast-to-coast American road trip and it’s presented as a multimedia extravaganza with a separate DVD featuring short films designed to accompany each individual track.
One day, many, many moons ago a wise man discovered the meaning of life: things come in threes. He called this theory 'The Rule of Three' (catchy, I know). I like to think he was thinking of visual albums when he dreamt this up, but he was more than likely talking about some sort of literary technique, or something equally thrilling. This year has seen the rise of the multimedia music experience™.
A sort of last band standing, the Wedding Present have not only defied the odds stacked against those groups originally lumped under the C86 tag, but they’ve continued to evolve their sound beyond the jangly indie rock of the makeshift genre tag. The Wedding Present of 2016 is a far different animal than that of, say, their George Best era. Never the most twee of the twee, the band has continued to explore and refine its muscular brand of blustery indie pop over the last several decades.
Well, this will throw everyone who treasured their “The Wedding Present: All The Songs Sound The Same” t-shirt back in the day. For over 30 years, David Gedge has found a niche and stuck with it: songs about unrequited love backed with some grinding guitars and usually played at a breakneck pace. There’s been the odd departure – Gedge’s side-project Cinerama channeled his inner John Barry – but it’s fair to say that Going Going begins like no other Wedding Present album.
With a career as long and as consistent as the Wedding Present's has been, the occasion of their ninth album would hardly seem like the place where they would start defying expectations. That being said, 2016's Going, Going... is something of a departure for David Gedge's long-running group at first. Featuring new guitarist Samuel Beer-Pearce and new bassist Katharine Wallinger, the record is 20 songs linked together by a series of films, one for each track.
The Wedding Present is the gift that keeps on giving. For the past 30 years, the longstanding indie rockers have somehow survived through a profusion of band changes without ever being condemned for it in the same way as, say, a band like The Fall. And there’s a good reason for this - The Wedding Present is apprehensive to change, a trait that gives them a long-earned longevity, if not a false chronology.
Whether they’re drafting in Steve Albini to produce, cranking out a new single every month or releasing an album in which every song has an accompanying film – as they do on their ninth album, Going, Going… – you have to give credit where it’s due to David Gedge and his various incarnations of The Wedding Present. Unfortunately, there's something a little cack-handed about their latest something new. Going, Going...
David Lewis Gedge, a British songwriter who so adroitly captured a certain strand of youthful bedsit weltschmerz in the formative part of his career, is now only four years away from qualifying for his Senior Person’s Railcard. So whilst it may not simply be a coincidence that there is a track entitled “Fifty-Six” on the ninth studio album by the long-standing doyens of indie heartache that Gedge has led following their formation in Leeds a generation ago, he’s sure as hell not mellowing with age. But what do a group who emerged during the early eighties post-punk/DIY boom, outlived virtually all of their jangly C86 peers despite a series of line-up alternations and created at least one glowering early 1990s alt-rock masterpiece actually sound like in the era of Snapchat and self-driving vehicles? The lead single on Going, Going.
It’s easy to take for granted the kinds of blurty, careening indie tunes David Gedge has been spewing for the last three decades. As leader of The Wedding Present, he’s rolled brittle C86 pop into meatier alt-rock, turning his band from sloppy Smiths to British cousins of Archers Of Loaf to some kind of dependable hybrid of those two things. The group’s 10th studio album is a coast-to-coast U.S.
You nearly had us there, David. Four tracks in, and we were fearing the worst. The Wedding Present’s 20-track new album Going, Going... commences as a sombre and experimental affair, instrumental but for some chanted wordless melodies. It would certainly be a radical departure were David Gedge.