Since they were formed way back in the mid-Eighties, The Wedding Present have never really played by the rules, and ‘Going, Going…’ is no exception. The album is a twenty-track collection, with each piece accompanied by a short film, and finds David Gedge’s group delivering a series of bold, inventive strokes as well as some classic Wedding Present moments.
Initially, ‘Going, Going…’ feels like you're listening to the wrong album, with the first few tracks having an atmospheric, almost soundtrack quality. At times these pieces feel as dark and mysterious as the recently unearthed sessions that Sonic Youth recorded for the ‘Made In The USA’ road movie, but with segments of recorded shipping forecast broadcast and angelic, folksy harmonising, this is an entirely British journey. The string passages on ‘Sprague’ are simultaneously plangent and uplifting, and only a supreme curmudgeon would fail to find that piece moving.
After an initial series of four beautiful, absorbing, and mostly instrumental pieces, ‘Going, Going…’ breaks out into more traditional rock formations. Upon first listen, that switch is something of a shock, but by eschewing some of the more flippant styles that have coloured earlier Wedding Present albums, Gedge offers up a mature, focussed record that never feels too long or unstructured. A song like ‘Two Bridges’ has a spiky punk energy but great pop hooks, and, in that song’s case, a neat sideways turn into an elongated outro that's nothing short of epic.
Epic is a decent descriptor for ‘Going, Going…’ overall. Layered guitar melodies buzz and shimmer with emotional intensity, while Gedge's impenetrable lyrics suggest an insight into some seismic relationship breakdown that's left him both uncertain and emboldened. One of the finest moments here is the jangly, affirming ‘Birdsnest’, which starts out like Gedge is telling a joke but which then develops into a tale of restored confidence and positive outlooks. ‘Secretary’ is all paranoid, nervous energy, while ‘Bells’ is a curt, punchy, singalong type thing that singlehandedly restores your faith in guitar music.
Twenty tracks is difficult to pull off and not leave the listener feeling a bit exhausted by the end, but by trading in oblique, opaque gestures and seemingly incompatible stylistic shifts, Gedge more than succeeds. The result is an album that's both faithful to Gedge’s thirty year vision of what he wanted The Wedding Present to be, while at the same time carrying a fresh new outlook deserving of a whole new audience.
CD1 - Kittery / Greenland / Marblehead / Sprague / Two Bridges / Little Silver / Bear / Secretary / Birdsnest / Kill Devil Hills / Bells / Fifty-six / Fordland / Emporia / Broken Bow / Lead / Ten Sleep / Wales / Rachel / Santa Monica
DVD - Kittery / Greenland / Marblehead / Sprague / Two Bridges / Little Silver / Bear / Secretary / Birdsnest / Kill Devil Hills / Bells / Fifty-six / Fordland / Emporia / Broken Bow / Lead / Ten Sleep / Wales / Rachel / Santa Monica
'Going, Going...' is available from 10th September 2016 on CD and as a Digital Download.
Please rate this release below, and share your thoughts in the comments section further down the page.