8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Marvellous return by Gedge and The Wedding Present.,
This review is from: Take Fountain (Audio CD)
The last decade saw the evolution of The Wedding Present from a jangly, C86 style indie-pop band, creating music that was half-way between The Smiths and The Undertones on their great debut George Best, through to the more abrasive Pixies/Sonic Youth inspired noise rock of legendary albums like Bizarro and Seamonsters, right the way up to the mid-nineties when they became a prolific, if slightly anonymous group that most considered to be going through the motions. Towards the end of the decade, Wedding Present singer/songwriter David Gedge dissolved the band a started a new group with his then-partner Sally Murrell, called Cinerama.
This back story is important, as it allows us to put Take Fountain into a greater context... an album that was written with the intention of being the next Cinerama project, recorded during a torturous break-up period between Gedge and Murrell (...or so I've heard elsewhere), and eventually released under The Wedding Present moniker, which had been inactive for close to a decade. It's good to have them back, with The Wedding Present always offering the darker, more introspective side of Gedge, away from the string-drenched, witty and beautifully grandiose pop of Cinerama, with Take Fountain showing a return to the aggressive guitar sound and literate though deeply honest lyrical territory of albums like Bizarro and Saturnalia.
The album opens with the short atmospheric introduction On Ramp, which leads us beautifully into the album's first highlight, the extended take on Interstate 5. This is one song to definitely rival some of those early Wedding Present joys, with a great guitar sound curtsey of Gedge and Simon Cleave (who contributed to Cinerama also) and some subdued backing vocals from Kari Paavola, which become more apparent during the epic and heartbreaking chorus, which can't help but bring to mind some of Morrissey's best moments from albums like Bona Drag, Maladjusted and Vauxhall and I. The song comes to a close with a nice Spaghetti western influenced guitar melody and some folk-like percussion, all topped of by cinematic strings and a nice burst of Morricone inspired horns.
The next track, Always the Quiet One, can't help but seem somewhat inferior compared to the epic atmospherics of Interstate 5... though repeated listens eventually show it to be one of the highlights of the album. Along with the single, I'm From Further North Than You, Always the Quiet One proves to be one of the song that most points to that classic mid-80's style of George Best, bringing to mind songs like Shatner and You Can't Moan Can You? Next track, Mars Sparkles Down On Me is a more emotional track, starting with a slow guitar melody drenched in atmospheric production, with Gedge and Paavola singly sadly alongside the slowly approaching stings and military-like percussion. Like Interstate 5, it's another grand epic, and another reason to buy this great album.
The second half of the album alternates between more up-tempo guitar tracks like Ringway to SeaTac (with the great lyric "we only have one last chance to start an argument") to more subdued and emotional stuff like Don't Touch that Dial (which has an epic, distorted guitar sound that brings to mind the mighty Seamonsters) and the great Queen Anne. It's amazing that this music - which seems to evoke the very best and worst qualities of a rainy English Monday morning - could be recorded in America, but still, Gedge and producer Steve Fisk manage to push the sound of 1996's prior release Saturnalia forward, without loosing the qualities and charms that made the band (or Gedge as a songwriter) so special in the first place.
The album opens with the fantastic indie-guitar-pop of Perfect Blue, which continues the melancholy vibe established by the rest of the album (with lyrics like "oh, haven't you had enough of me... oh, how could I make you love me?"), though adding a touch of hope as Gedge seemingly finds a reason to carry on. It's a great moment, and another of my personal favourites from this album, which deserves to find a wider audience outside of the usual ranks of Gedge fanatics and indie-pop devotees.