The Wedding Present - Valentina

Like a fine pastiche, the presented elements are enjoyable, but there’s a detached lack of soul and ardor.

Self-parody, the fabrication of oneself, by oneself is often lauded for its humility and genius. Many late Hemmingway publications are considered to be so, despite suggestions to the contrary that they were, in fact, merely inferior pieces of work. Can one man’s mimicking genius be another man’s poor imitation?

In their stable, early nineties incarnation, The Wedding Present produced the brilliantly caustic ‘Bizarro’ and discordant ‘Seamonster’ before the revolving door began to spin around the arbor of David Gedge, vocalist, guitarist, and all round auteur. Band members came and went whilst the band continued to produce a series of albums with greater alacrity, including the curious experimental guise of ‘Cinerama’. ‘Valentina’, their eighth studio album, and billed as a return to their roots.

Indeed, there is much to recognize. The varied switching of both key and tempo, create the signature loud-quiet dynamic sound, well representative of the band’s raucous and pensive sides. The distinctive, chiming guitars on ‘524 Fidelio’, and epic riff intro of standout rack, ‘You Jane’, are the band at its frenetic best, whilst the fraught drums of ‘Back A Bit… Stop’, and the wooly snarl of bass in ‘End Credits’ are warmly familiar.

Gedge, the bereft lyricist, delivers in his trademark off-key wail, reflecting “I was using you all this time” in an anti-love duet with bassist Le Moko on ‘The Girl From The DDR’, and on the pains of infidelity in the pithy break up lament of opener ‘You’re Dead’.

But like a fine pastiche, the presented elements are enjoyable, but there’s a detached lack of soul and ardor. The early version of the band was unmistakably driven, brawling, even vociferant at times, but here there’s a distinct lack of chutzpa.

In isolation, the album is occasionally striking, with a jocular streak, but set against a fine early body of work, it suffers by comparison. The upcoming tour, promoted as a chance to revisit the back catalogue, does little to dispel the suggestion, that ‘Valentina’ is merely an imitation of what the Wedding Present once so gloriously were.

Tags: The Wedding Present, Reviews, Album Reviews

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