by Chris Familton
The Wedding Present are back with their eighth full length album and somewhat of a return to the sound of their glory years in the late 80s and early 90s. The band has always revolved around main-man David Gedge, he of the strangled vocal style and love song obsessive and on Valentina he shows he still knows how to write a visceral paean to romance.
Valentina is great example of the different sides to Gedge’s musical personality. On one hand there are the noisy, Pixies shaped songs like Meet Cute, End Credits and Back A Bit… Stop where the bass is distorted, the guitars switch between sweet jangle and distorted crunch and the punk aesthetic is high. On the other side of the coin are softer, melancholic songs like 524 Fidelio and the closing Mystery Date. The result is a nicely paced record (ten songs in forty minutes), showing the full range of Gedge’s often underrated songwriting abilities and a no-frills production approach. He still knows how to write those observant turns of phrase with the same eloquence as Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker. The Girl from the DDR is a highlight of Valentina with lines like “I’ve realised I’m never going to leave my girlfriend for you” and an elevating chorus that carries the song through some wonderfully melodic peaks and valleys.
The Wedding Present are to a large extent still playing the same songs they perfected on Bizarro and Seamonsters but they do it so well it is harsh to criticism them for any lack of experimentation or evolution. When you can bottle ideas, sounds and emotions so succinctly as Gedge can it would seem self indulgent to venture elsewhere. As a result Valentina is surprisingly refreshing in its celebration of the essence of The Wedding Present.
this review was first published in Drum Media