POP Valentina in your ears and a longing sigh will break from your lips; your old friends The Wedding Present are home. With another change in line-up, there’s always one thing we can be sure of; David Gedge enjoys a good musical moan, especially if it’s the ladies who are getting him down. Appropriately named Valentina, their ninth album is packed with the entire range of every possible sort of love song, from relationship frustrations and affairs to broken-hearts.

The Wedding Present are back on familiar ground once more then, with opener You’re Dead, once again dipping into Gedge’s complicated love life. In a patter of drums and surging guitar chords he gruffly sings of his confusion; “You appall me, Ok call me”, the abruptly placed and swaggering lyrics; “pow, pow, you’re dead” cut into the light melodies. It’s as if they never left.

Smothered in cliché; You Jane is set to an unbroken riff and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Decorated in a punk rock melody Gedge gruffly sings of tacky romantic comparisons; “there’s really no need to explain, he’s Tarzan and your Jane, he’s Bogart your Bacall…” Valentina is all about wallowing in misery with a smile on your face. Something Gedge never tires of.

524 Fidelio begins in a hum of low funky bass notes and is very quickly transformed into the sweetest track on the album with quaint traces of Belle and Sebastian, courtesy of light backing vocals and delicate tones. And stand out song The Girl from the DDR maybe shows some healthy emotional progression. New bassist Pepe le Moko chips in with melancholy phrases in German, as Gedge bluntly explains “I’m never gonna leave my girlfriend for you”. It all ends in a Buzzcocks-style guitar chord rage: a subtle fade out followed by a sudden crescendo.

Over the years we’ve become well-informed on the ups and down of Gedge’s love life. Valentina plays like a catch-up with an old mate, full of extensive details and drowning sorrows. The opposite sex is an enigma, and Gedge’s stack of songs on the subject proves he’s no closer to solving such a riddle. Naturally turning a tad timid, and even somewhat experimental with age, Valentina is a sympathetic album with the simplicity of a teenage journal, but typical Wedding Present nonetheless.

Reviewed for Incendiary Magazine. Published online: 20th May 2012


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