The Wedding Present - Valentina [2012] + iTunes Bonus Track

MUSiC, Album. April 1, 2012 by Jason.


Here's The Wedding Present - Valentina Brand New Eighth studio album, Valentina, comes four years after 2008 s critically acclaimed El Rey.

The Wedding Present - Valentina [2012] Album
Original Release / Scopitones / TONECD037 / CD
MP3 / 320

iTunes version with Bonus Track / WEB
AAC / 256
iTunes purchase. Personal details scrubbed using iTMS Scrubber. Digital booklet included.

Review from PoppedCulture.co.uk

Leeds based band The Wedding Present have had a turbulent and epic history since their inception, years ago in the mid eighties. But, the spirit seems not to have been lost, as they seem ready to shoot back on to the scene with their latest album, Valentina, an album recorded and produced by tiny label, Scopitones, set up and maintained by the band’s lead singer David Gedge.

It’s good, too – it’s vintage-sounding rock ‘n’ roll. One can almost imagine music videos to the songs in black and white. It sounds aged, mature and thoughtful, with a happy, head-bopping kind of twist. It’s enough to keep the listener on their toes throughout the whole album, and there are some major shifts in how songs sound halfway through the songs themselves, such as the abrupt change from fast paced rock music to a haunting, buzzing synth sound on Back a Bit… Stop, which was totally unexpected. Also, the rapid change in pace on Girl from the DDR is another good example of this. It makes it sound interesting, free and creative.

The Wedding Present, as a band, have a lot of history behind them, and as such a lot of songwriting experience. So, it’s only natural that they should have a more mature sound than perhaps some more mainstream, modern indie bands, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. It’s a mixture of old-fashioned rock and roll and newer styled indie music, so it’s therefore bound to appeal to a wide audience. It’s catchy, and also sounds like it can be used in many contexts – it’s good background music, but it’s also music that can be listened to intently, and enjoyed wholly in either situation.

Vocally, Gedge’s voice lends itself perfectly to the retro rock ‘n’ roll style. It’s melancholy without being depressing, tuneful without being over-the-top and masculine without being gravelly. It’s somewhere in the middle of pop-rock, indie and old-school, early-nineties grunge, and the fact that it’s so accessible and at the same time so unique is one of the things that makes it good to listen to.

The band have had a long standing of deliberately not signing to a major label. So, this isn’t commercialised, manufactured music, it’s music that’s been written, honed to perfection and then recorded in a small studio, the way music was, in their opinion, meant to be made, not made on a computer and plastered all over the Internet. It’s an ode to ‘sticking it to the man’ in a less-punk-more-rock-orientated kind of way, an ode to freedom of expression and songwriting creativity. It’s pleasant to hear.

Some, more ‘new mainstream music’ orientated listeners might feel like it sounds like it’s recorded in a very ‘retro’ way which they might find sounds a bit ‘old’ for them – because of the fact that it obviously hasn’t been manufactured and processed. To many people, yours truly included, it will sound genuine and distinctly ‘not-artificial’, but to others it might sound antiquated.

But, on the other hand, maybe that’s what it’s meant to sound like, seeing as The Wedding Present have claimed that they have, since their outset, been “refusing to play the record industry’s game”. By making their album sound deliberately ‘old-school’, it reinforces the idea that anyone can make, record and distribute their music without the help of a professional label. It’s a good idea, it brings the idea of making music away from the commercial and, in some senses, unreachable and makes it more about creativity and freedom. It’s refreshing and pleasant, and it brings the band closer to their audience.

Some might even view this as a little bit ‘gimmicky’, but in this reviewers mind they’re a band that’s taken the idea of ‘indie’ to the extreme that, in some ways, actually needs to be done. It’s music with a message, and that message is to make and enjoy music for what it is – not a business.

Overall, then, it’s a total gem of a record, an excellent sounding, excellently written and recorded album. The Wedding Present may have been around for a while, deliberately avoiding major record labels in favour of musical and creative freedom, but it sounds like it’s a formula that works for them, and it’s a formula that helps them make good music that all can enjoy. A solid 8/10.

Tracklist:
1. You're Dead
2. You Jane
3. Meet Cute
4. Back A Bit... Stop
5. Stop Thief!
6. The Girl From The DDR
7. Deer Caught In The Headlights
8. 524 Fidelio
9. End Credits
10. Mystery Date

iTunes Bonus tracks
11. CleanPain Perdu
12. VideoYou Jane
Digital Booklet - Valentina

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