The moment's gone (a tribute to The Wedding Present)

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New Musical Express 21 October 1989






Bizarro (RCA LP/Cassette/CD)

THE WEDDING Present are decisively one of
"our" bands. The most consistent and
endurable of all the C86ers, they've proferred no
fewer than nine thrill-a-side singles.
The Weddoes' weaponry has always been
simple but effective: frenetically chopped frets,
appendix-arousing basslines and Dave Gedge's
cheekily gruff growls being entwined and
embraced with pulse-racing tunes and pained
picture stories. And they're sticking resolutely
to their guns - 'Bizarro' once again sees them in
frantic, love-tangled mode.
The one difference is that Gedge has exploited
the potential power of long-range missiles. Past
glories such as 'My Favourite Dress' and
'Anyone Can Make A Mistake' ripped away at
the conventional 45 canvas by dragging their
climaxes far beyond rational expectation,
whiplashing plectrum workouts and both of
them. Here, 'Bewitched' and 'Take Me' take that
numbing notion even further: the former floats
in and rolls languidly beneath Gedge's whispers
until shockingly cavernous sheets of noise blast
in with invitation.
'Take Me' is similarly blustering, carrying the
listener along for anything between eight
minutes and half an hour. Time becomes
immaterial, invigoration is inevitable. And if the
middle break sounds like 'Caroline', well, we
always knew they were the thinking indie kids'
Status Quo. Only younger, balder and faster.
Even more satisfaction is gleaned from the
fact that both tracks prove - if evidence was
necessary - that the paddle from the indie desert
island to the majors' luxury liner hasn't infringed
upon the Weddoes' integrity. 'Bizarro' is
precisely the album they would have made had
they been on RCA or Arsehole Records of
But then the problems begin; just as David's
desperate tales dominate lyrical proceedings,
from infidelity to finality and all pessimistic
points in between, so much of 'Bizarro' is
formulaic. 'Crushed' is stubbornly predictable,
all drilling guitars and lurching segments.
'Thanks', for all its intense precision, still seams
ahead in familiar one-vision direction. And
while 'Granadaland' skates along with Gedge in
fully-blown Manilow mood ("You're breaking
my heart/I can't bear the thought of us being
apart"), it can't dispel sense of lack of adventure
or innovation.
These aren't minor complaints. Sure, if
'Bizarro' were a debut release we'd be shouting
its title from the highest buildings. But it isn't.
Time will surely catch up with the Weddoes one
day. Could their grappling guitars be grinding
themselves into the ground? Can't Gedge just
settle down and co-exist happily ever after with
his love, and if he can what will he sing about?
For today at least, 'Bizarro' will suffice,
possessing sufficient bursts of billigerent brawn
and inspired incandescence to make it a worthy
successor to the erratic brilliance of 'George
Best'. But The Wedding Present are merely
treading water when they should be walking on
it. (6)

Simon Williams

©2005 Chester Severien (