Detractors of The Wedding Present will argue that the band’s career can best be defined by a propensity to peddle the same aesthetic since the late ‘80s; even the group themselves have, in the past, proudly confessed that “every song sounds the same”. But while their famed, frenetic indie pop has remained largely unchanged over the years, that’s not to say that David Gedge and co are averse to the idea of revealing something more experimental every now and then. ‘Going Going...’ doesn’t hugely traverse a tendency to create bittersweet pop gems, but it’s certainly more challenging than previous LPs.
David Gedge’s acerbic depiction of love, loss and disillusionment is salient in many subsequent bands of their ilk, and it’s a theme that has proved enduring over time. While The Wedding Present’s iconic debut LP ‘George Best’ is known for its primitive brilliance, ‘Seamonsters’ captured facets of them at their most affecting and, arguably, their best — with a controlled aggression becoming a trademark that no-one could refute. Of course, they’re not all perfect, but across the nine albums that The Wedding Present have released to date, each has something in common: a relevance that prevents them from becoming just one of those bands who keep releasing albums for the sake of productivity.
Proving that they’re not all about nostalgia, The Wedding Present have embraced the rise of the multimedia music experience by releasing ‘Going Going...’ in a multimedia format. This is a visual album, with videos accompanying each track, the first quarter of which is somewhat deceiving, if not unexpected. Sounding frightfully post-apocalyptic, opener ‘Kittery’ and the three instrumental tracks that follow are a more foreboding, darker version of The Wedding Present and it’s unlike anything else they’ve done before. While it’s an admirable departure, though — this doesn’t really sound like a Wedding Present album.
From ‘Two Bridges’, however, all the usual hallmarks are intact, and it’s a relief to know that the group haven’t completely negated an unfailing approach to urgency and lyrical astuteness. It’s good to know that David Gedge hasn’t become complacent with songwriting over time, either. Here, self-doubt still prevails, and the way he articulates the grievances of relationships and loss through his accented turn of phrase is instantly recognisable. Inspired by a visit to the USA, ‘Going Going...’ plays out like a series of songs accompanying a road trip; the imagery bringing to mind the dusty landscapes of the South-West and Manhattan street corners in the summertime.
The most triumphant moments here are when David Gedge’s influences are at play. The seething, rushed chaos of ‘Secretary’, for example, sounds like an early incarnation of The Fall, with bassist Katherine Wallinger’s softer lilt reminiscent of Brix Smith’s occasional interjections. Elsewhere, the guitar work towards the end of the sublimely melodic ‘Birdsnest’ is appropriately shambling, wonderfully recalling their less refined C86 epoch.
‘Going Going...’ isn’t without its flaws: for every moment of melodic virtuosity there’s occasional instances of comparative fillers. Those uncharacteristic twist and turns - the hybrid of orchestral arrangements and classic indie pop formulas - give the album cohesion and a narrative despite seeming out of place at first. Still, the LP is testament to the group’s ability to churn out perfectly wrought, desperate pop, time and time again.
Words: Hayley Scott
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