on 7 July 2005
Formed by former Wedding Present singer/songwriter David Gedge and his then partner Sally Murrell, Cinerama would go on to represent the more upbeat and pop-minded side of Gedge's song writing, as he takes the same love-sick subject matter of classic albums like George Best and Seamonsters, and combines it with acoustic guitars, exotic horns, gorgeous strings and, for the first time, cascading synths. This collection, simply titled This Is Cinerama, brings together all the songs from the first four Cinerama singles, which means as well as the great b-sides that make up the second half of this compilation, we also have six-tracks that were originally found on the bands first LP, Va-Va Voom. So, if you're looking for the perfect introduction to the joys of Cinerama... look no further than this.
The collection opens with the great Kerry Kerry, which perfectly establishes the sound, style and ideology of the rest of the music found here... with Gedge offering up a beautifully simple three-minute pop song, perfectly complimented by Murrell's sweet backing vocals and those gorgeous strings. The overall sound of the record is quite continental, reminding me of those early 60's pop songs from people like Françoise Hardy, though crossed with the traditional style of indie-pop employed by bands like The Lightening Seeds, The Divine Comedy and Pulp. Next track, Love, takes the French influence further, beginning with a French language monologue, which then gives way to a gorgeous song that features backing vocals from the Delgados' Emma Pollock (...showing Gedge's desire to endear himself to the Scottish indie scene, perhaps?).
Like most great pop songs, the lyrics here are often tinged with melancholy, with Gedge once again chronicling the foibles of modern-love and disintegrating relationships (not always his... some songs here seem like witty character sketches). However, it is the juxtaposition of these lyrics alongside the bouncing, jangly melodies and colourful instrumentation, which really brings this collection to life. At fourteen tracks, there's too much to discuss on a song by song basis... although, suffice to say, all of the songs here scrub up extremely well, and there are a number of highlights, including one of my favourite songs of all time, Crusoe. Here, Gedge creates a beautiful little acoustic guitar melody, further complimented by those drifting keyboards, curtsey of Murrell, and some brilliant lyrics ("you can't start a sentence like that and not end it... you can't write a letter like that and no send it... you haven't really told me anything... the silence when you hold me is, deafening"). However, if that wasn't enough, Gedge goes further to prove himself one of the most intelligent British songwriters currently at work, by gleefully juxtaposing his own melody with that of Robert Mellin's theme from Robinson Crusoe.
It's certainly one of the most gorgeous and achingly melancholic songs ever recorded, and one to rank alongside some of Gedge's other standouts, like Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, Blonde, Crawl and Perfect Blue. Other highlights here include (for me at least) the seemingly confessional mini-narrative Au Pair, the catchy Dance Girl Dance, the sort-of ballad King's Cross, the later (seemingly confessional) piece Manhattan (replete with two American gals discussing their regret about a failed affair with a British pop-star) and one of the absolute pinnacles of the collection, a cover of London, by the Smiths. I personally think that this version of the song is better that the original (see also Neil Hannon's cover of There is a Light that Never Goes Out), with Gedge's lethargic style turning the song into an aching ode to relationship misery, with a slower tempo, beautiful arrangements & some tasteful atmospheric effects.
The compilation comes to a close with Ears (Valvola Remix), which has Gedge singing yet another French-influenced confessional with interweaving backing vocals from both Murrell and Pollock. It's another highlight and another example of Gedge's perfect pop style (though to be fair, if you appreciate bands like The Wedding Present, Pulp, The Divine Comedy, The Lightening Seeds, Orange Juice, Morrissey and The Smiths, then there's not really a bad track here!!). This is Cinerama is a perfect introduction to an underrated (...and now sadly defunct) band, who really deserved a much wider audience.