The Wedding Present – Valentina

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Eight albums into their career, or into the career of David Gedge, The Wedding Present are still just as strong as ever.  Gedge may not be one of the household names, but his band is well-regarded in most circles; Valentina is an album that will definitely sustain that status, and might even build a bit upon it.  In the end, who really cares as long as he’s still making great music.

“You’re Dead” begins the 8th studio recording with the formulaic drive that’s led me to fall head over heels in love with The Wedding Present; it begins with a quiet build-up, then blasts away during the chorus, giving us the loud element, then returning.  It’s back and forth, with Gedge’s discordant guitar ringing as loud as ever. What long time fans, and hopefully new ones, will adore is that his playful songwriting is still intact, including this song’s (and album’s) best lyric: “you appall me/okay, call me.”  Who says loud rock songs can’t be fun?

There’s a bit of a reservedness in Gedge’s writing this round, though the last while has seen him dabbling in such waters (Cinerama especially).  “Meet Cute” definitely isn’t a reserved quiet song, as the guitar’s do unleash that brash forcefulness I love, but something about it shows a bit more thoughtfulness in delivery of the vocals.  It’s interesting; the music is as loud as its ever been, but the lyrical content has the lovelorn DG at his best, providing what some might deem simple relationship wisdom–personally no one does it better!

Valentina still packs the punch you expect from a Wedding Present effort.  “Back a Bit..Stop” rings in your ears with that angular guitar playing from the moment you press play on the track.  This is the first time, too, that I really noticed the remarkable drumming on a Gedge album (not saying it’s ever been bad). Charles Layton pounds away to perfection, completing the band’s sound like you haven’t heard before. It’s definitely an added bonus to the entire listening experience.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the current Wedding Present line-up is how dynamic the group sounds.  Pepe le Moko’s female vocals, which Gedge has used in the past, still give an extra level to the sonic style of the group.  “Fidelio” is one such track where her playful backing vocals give an extra flourish to Valentina. And of course, the quartet still has those long burners that you adore, such as “Mystery Date” or “Dear Caught in the Headlights,” the former being one of the slowest burners you’ll find in David’s catalogue.  It would be interesting to see where they would all be now if the current line-up had started things initially.

The Wedding Present is perhaps one of my favorite groups, period.  Their songs appeal to me on the musical and lyrical level, which isn’t something I always get nowadays.  Sure, not every song here is a definite stand-out, but every single one is better (to me) than most of the other music that’s currently out there.  Valentina just proves what we all knew all along: David Gedge is simply incredible, and we should all be thankful he doesn’t seem interested in going away any time soon.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/02-You-Jane.mp3]

Download:The Wedding Present – You Jane [MP3]