Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records (HHBTM)
[2 December 2016]
They needed to stretch out; they needed the space. Going, Going… is the first double album in The Wedding Present’s long glorious career and it opens with four haunting instrumentals, as if David Gedge has been stunned into silence and is slowly working up the courage to speak, like when your loved one asks you what’s wrong and all you can manage to do is slowly shake your head. Finally, he collects himself and explodes into ‘Two Bridges’, and even then he’s only able to leave a voicemail message—he probably made sure to call when he knew she couldn’t answer.
Formed in 1985, The Wedding Present are one of the UK’s most longstanding and much-loved indie bands with eighteen UK Top 40 hit singles to their name. The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, in his northern-ness, his cantankerousness, is one of the few peers who can match David Gedge’s longevity, but Smith drifted into schtick years ago and has never made a record as open-hearted as this.
The album tells the story of a road trip across the US—or more accurately, the accumulation of thoughts collected during a road trip—over the course of 20 songs, each with its own accompanying short film. The music is literally cinematic, in many cases written while looking at photographs & film recorded during the journey.
Road trips allow the mind to drift. They give you time to think. And Going, Going… is more contemplative, more spiritual than anything they’ve ever done. If The Wedding Present have always been heard as a hyperactive frenzy, a torrent of emotion, Going, Going… is where they take a moment to reflect. And what they’ve ended up finding is even more terrifying. Adolescent dread is intense, but it’s the dread that comes w/middle-age that hits the deepest—the knowledge that monsters are real, and death isn’t a tragedy—that it’s as natural as the weather and every bit as inevitable.
The lyrics are still as incisive (incisive as in creating an incision) as ever. Gedge points fingers everywhere—at himself & everyone in the room. Going, Going… is an album that sounds like it was made under great psychological distress, like if these songs didn’t get written then there might never be any more songs ever. The album’s theme gets clearly laid-out on ‘Fordland.’ I’m crossing time zones like it’s going out of style / Pretending that I know / Exactly what I’m doing with my life, meanwhile / I’m terrified of tomorrow.
The album propels from one bittersweet rush to another. There’s the hyperactive ‘Secretary’, the brutal
irony in the chorus of ‘KIll Devil Hills’ as our protagonist, after nearly half an album of equivocations & self-doubt, describes himself as ‘a man who knows what he wants.’
It all builds to the epic finale of ‘Santa Monica’, from Maine all the way to California, from emotional desolation to a cautiously optimistic ending. As the singing ends and the guitars swell, swept away on several minutes of instrumental calm, it feels as if we’ve come full-circle, only now the wordlessness is the product of satisfaction. The album title hints that this could be the end, and if so, what a lovely way to say goodbye.
Released in the UK two months ago on Scopitones, HHBTM is handling the US release, which comes out this November. The UK press is raving, and soon so won’t we all.
|“Going, Going… “|
[whohit]Going, Going… by The Wedding Present[/whohit]