Select, July, 1991
THE WEDDING PRESENT
RCA PL 75012/MC/CD
Jilted, jaded and used. David Gedge is back and thirsty for the taste of revenge. The bad news for those who've crossed him is that 'Seamonsters' is his vehicle for retribution.
Recorded in under two weeks at producer Steve Albini's remote Minneapolis studio, 'Seamonsters' again casts Gedge as the perennial lovelorn teenager, a distressed young man struggling behind a mesh of guitars to come to terms with how people treat each other, It's as naked and vulnerable as he's let us see him - at times he sounds suicidal.
The single, 'Dalliance', charts the fall-out from the bitter end of a seven-year relation over a lullaby guitar before being blown into a nether world of distortion. 'Suck', 'Heather' and 'Lovenest' find Gedge double-crossed and deceived; the partly acoustic 'Rotterdam' and 'Carolyn' are the lightest, catching Gedge reminiscing about good times gone.
At times it's like listening to your neighbours quarreling through the bedroom wall. They sound upset but you can't quite make out why. An acutely personal song like 'Octopussy' sounds like it's churning Gedge's insides up. Yet the vocals are so low in the mix (and half-mumbled anyway) that only the occasional line - "take off your clothes and lie down over there" - sneaks through to give a clue as to what's eating him.
Still, Gedge speaks fluently the universal language of anyone who's been snubbed, dropped or left on the shelf. Hell, after a line like "scratch his back and that's all he wants / it's a lot more than I'm left with" (from 'Dalliance') who wouldn't feel a brief pang of guilt?
If it is the end, as suggested by the recent sacking of guitarist Peter Solowka, of a three album power pop chapter in The Wedding Present's history, then 'Seamonsters' is a tense final passage.
Otherwise, all that's left for The Wedding Present now is to harness the tendrils of songs as massive as 'Octopussy' and show us what they really can do. ****