Almost thirty years since their debut, The Wedding Present reissue their first eight offerings with the obligatory odds and sods and curios. A grown-up, post-bedroom dwelling Smiths, mainstay David Gedge is a narrator of the quixotic and quotidian, emblematic of ‘indie’ before the term became rootless and nothing but shorthand for a ‘look’ and usage of specific instrumentation (2/3 guitars, drums and moody boneheaded lunk up top). Progenitors of choppy, chiming and whirling guitars and intricate tales of love, loss, regret, Gedge is a totem of indie-rock with a laconic, catch-throat delivery and expert at articulating the pratfalls and pitfalls of the emotions.
Remaining on the right side of twee, these are songs that are wry and spry to make you cry (tears of recognition and empathy) as well as a battering of the senses. ‘Tommy’(1987) collates their first four singles, B-sides and selected tracks from two early radio sessions with perennial champion, John Peel. The album features the superlative ‘My Favourite Dress’ an early indicator of the sardonic slant Gedge would take with his lyrical themes ( ‘Slowly your beauty is eaten away, by the scent of someone else on the blanket where we lay … there’s always something left behind’) allied to a coda that no matter when it finishes always feels too soon.
1987’s ‘George Best’ upped the guitar pyrotechnics with the band at times sounding like a more melodic Mission of Burma and featuring wonderfully elaborate titles such as ‘What did your last servant die of?’ and ‘Everyone thinks he looks daft’ that instinctively demand further inspection.
The gloriously vivid lyrical themes continue with songs like ‘No’ from 1989’s ‘Bizarro’ articulating that moment in a relationship when you’ve been had off and cheated on, the detritus a giveaway; on this occasion ‘his’ razor.
‘Kennedy’ was unleashed on the world from this album and is one of the defining songs of the decade capturing the dearth/death of the American Dream with a metaphorical excess of ‘apple pie’.
The assault on the lugholes continue in fine fettle with 1991’s ‘Seamonsters’ which saw the band link up proper with Ur-noise engineer, Steve Albini and in a rebuke to the ‘critics’ ditch the fantastical titles in favour of one-word titles (‘Dalliance’ ‘Suck’ etc.) Arguably the band’s peak in terms of cohesion and content, the album is a blast of sonic architecture that still astounds to this day.
The knowingly arch ‘Hit Parade’ was a compendium of the 12 7” singles released every calendar month in 1992 (equalling Elvis Presley’s record for the most U.K. Top 30 hits in one year) a typically Gedgian act of subversion annoying the gatekeepers in the process which nowadays would be viewed as cynical and folly. The same format was actioned the following year; ‘if it ain’t broke …’
With nary a dud throughout, in terms of a matrimonial gift this is an all-expenses paid jaunt to the tropics rather than a welcome mat.
Jib the counterfetti, engage your heart and intellect and dine at the top table for once.