The Wedding Present are an underrated English indie-punk band. Maybe because they started a bit later, in the late eighties, or because they never had (relative) American success, or because they inflected melody into their punk, they had long been more a favorite of music critics (such as early supporter John Peel) than they had been acknowledged at large. Since the release of 2008’s El Rey, main man/only remaining founding member David Gedge has taken steps to rectify that, by performing their most successful albums, mostly 1989’s Bizarro (QRO live review) but also 1991 follow-up Seamonsters. Hopefully the latest new Wedding Present, Valentina, will get the attention it is due.
Like El Rey, Valentina is not the seminal breakthrough that Bizarro was, but is another strong album from a strong act. Also like Rey, Valentina does lack a bit for the standout track, but makes up for it with one solid number after another. Gedge knows how to do quiet/loud, from opener “You’re Dead” to closer “Mystery Date”, and how to inflect his songs with melody and emotion – without going overboard. Reminiscent a bit of an English Grant Hart (QRO interview), and talk-singing at times like the accessibly endearing Eddie Argos (QRO interview) of Art Brut (QRO spotlight on), Gedge is engaging and evocative, and only rarely pleading (“Stop Thief!”). He’s also got some hopping energy at times (“Back a Bit… Stop”), along with some strong drumming from latest drummer Charles Layton (“You’re Dead”, “524 Fidelio”).
David Gedge’s Wedding Present might never get their true ‘due’, but who does these days? Hopefully his recent performances of ‘classic’ TWP will get more people to check out his still-solid new material.