The Wave Pictures - Long Black Cars

A good reminder of the band’s brilliance.

Rating: 8

The Wave Pictures are something of a tough sell, to the uninitiated. The music they make - prolifically, ‘Long Black Cars’ being their twelfth album since 2003 - has a lot in common with early 50s rock and roll, with some bits of the seventies California scene thrown in for good measure.

The band’s set-up - the simple but effective Mo Tucker beat, the propulsive guitar, effective bass - is not a million miles from an act you would find on stage at a working men’s club on a Saturday night, playing through a vast repertoire of ‘standards’. The record sounds like a band performing in a small room, the drums distant but not missing, backing vocals that sound like they’re actually in the background; ‘Long Black Cars’ is in keeping with the band’s discipline of one-take, no-overdubs, live recording.

On a cursory listen, you might not think there’s much to distinguish them from these predecessors; but there’s a reason the trio inspire devotion from the press and fans alike.

The twelve songs on this album sound like Tin Pan Alley-born standards, the sort of songs you know without really knowing, songs that just sound right even on your first listen. They’re also uniquely the Wave Pictures’; front man David Tattersall has one of the most distinctive lyrical styles indie rock has ever seen.

Tattersall, too, delivers these lyrics in a soulful voice not unlike Morrissey’s, albeit with much more restraint and much less affectation. He’s a damn good singer, basically, especially on ballad ‘Come Home Tessa Buckman’ where he wrenches ever last bit of pathos from the eponymous chorus.

Moz and Tattz share similarities in their song-writing, too, both possessing an ability to bring a romantic air to mundane activities like, say, a couple sharing a tin of kidney beans. Not many other bands would choose ‘The milk bubbled out of the bottle in clotted lumps of foul cream’ as an opening line (as on ‘Never Go Home Again’)

‘Wild hair tumbling from the centre of your skull like spaghetti / I knew then that you’d never forget me’ the trio sing in unison on ‘Spaghetti’. If this album is your first experience of Wymeswold’s favourite songs, it’s unlikely you will forget them. If you’re a veteran, this is a good reminder of their brilliance.