The Wedding Present | El Rey (Manifesto)

cd_wedding-present.jpgThis is not the sound of a band past its prime, but rather one fully planted in the midst of its generous talents.







I’m probably the wrong person to be writing this review. I’m no fan of The Wedding Present…and by that I mean that, although I’ve heard their name murmured with fondness and appreciation, I’d never listened to them until El Rey, their first in three years, and the second since their reformation in 2005. After my recent initiation, however, I can now count myself one among the converted.

El Rey is ridiculously catchy, perhaps a result of the band’s collaboration with Steve Albini; whatever the reason, this is not the sound of a band past its prime, but rather one fully planted in the midst of its generous talents. Singer/songwriter David Gedge has a confident voice, a focused, full-throttle rhythm that captures listeners at the first track and doesn’t let go.

Opener "Santa Ana Winds" is everything good indie rock is meant to be: sure-footed, infectious and creative. Intriguing, often complex instrumentation sets the stage for Gedge’s solid lyrics and vocals. Overall, the disc’s songs are stirring, upbeat numbers to keep toes tapping and ears open. The intricate guitar work of "Soup" gives way to the mellower, darker and utterly captivating "Palisades." As the press sheet says, Gedge wrote this album while living in Los Angeles, lending a glimpse of "Hollywood seen through the eyes of a gritty Northerner."

Though the album slows a bit toward the middle, the songs still hit home. Following a couple of the slower numbers, the buoyant "Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk" is a fun tongue-in-cheek bouncer. Many of the song titles here are tongue in cheek, including the barreling "The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend." "Swingers" takes Gedge and Co. out in a reflective, unhurried manner.

Count me among the tastemakers; this is one for the books. A | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: The Rakes, Superchunk

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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