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

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New Musical Express 10 September 1994

Watusi (Island/All formats)

DAVID GEDGE has increasingly come to resemble a Granny Smith figure (what do you mean? He looks like an apple? - Demanding Grocery Ed) who tittle-tattles over the garden wall about relationships that can never be resolved. The difference between him and other blue -rinsed gossips is that he has legions of adolescents hanging on to his every word, and these devotees are highly unlikely to be disappointed by the fine-tuning and subtle overhaul of The Wedding Present oeuvre that constitutes 'Watusi'.

After going through the sadistic critique of the pop process that was the ploy of releasing a single every month, and changing major labels, The Wedding Present are back with the highly realistic Leeds vibe that made them. David Gedge's mind never leaves England; his is a Northern vision of cobbled streets, telling it like it is, eavesdropping on lovers, and putting the results across in first-person over a churning facsimile of rock. To some people, the results might seem rather dull, but these 12 songs are actually subversive in that their gritty reality is diametrically opposed to, say, the Coca-Cola USA Sex Drugs dreams of The Jesus And Mary Chain.
Once you ignore the all-too-familiar opening and closing salvos, The Wedding Present actually show progress of sorts: letting some light in. 'Click Click' is one of a slew of catchy songs that distinguishes itself by having a 45-second a capella ending; 'It's A Gas' is coded with a kind of '70s harmony pastiche; and 'Catwoman' is a kind of duet between David Gedge and himself - in gruff mode and in falsetto.
Strangest of all, the touching, melodic and experimental 'Spangle' seems to have been recorded over a backing track of snaps, crackles and pops - you hear static as well as a tune. There's even a brass section to grace the ending of 'Big Rat' and Gedge, who sings clearly throughout whilst the guitars scrape and sizzle, is in risqué mode on 'Gazebo', muttering about "the taste of you". Oooh saucy! A pleasantly small step forward. (7)

Dele Fadele

©2005 Chester Severien (