The Wedding Present
El Rey / Manifesto / Buy
In a lot of ways it’s silly to call El Rey a return to form for the Wedding Present, who, after all these years, still make the same (fantastic) record every time out. So, yes, guitar-heavy, sex-obsessed, whip-smart indie pop is the order here. And it’s, as ever, brilliantly crafted and totally familiar. In fairness to frontman David Gedge and company, however, the band’s bratty, Brit-pop guitar bray has been bulked up considerably on El Rey.
This is, after all, the first batch of material produced with uber-dude Steve Albini since 91’s Seamonsters. That album was a post-“Daft,” post-Peel highwater mark, experimenting with a heftier palate and a darker, randy wit. Which is the case here too. In contrast to 2005’s tentative, almost sleepy Take Fountain (the first release from the Present after Gedge’s side-project-turned-full-time-gig Cinerama disbanded in ’04), The Albini Reunion packs some surprising wallop. There’s the in-the-red guitars of “Santa Ana Winds,” the beastly Best-style chord bobbling on “Spider Man on Hollywood,” and the hefty bass and guitar squall of “The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend.” But Gedge’s furrowed brow makes sense. Remember: he’s a recent LA transplant who, in case the song titles didn’t tip you off, has turned his ire and eye on a new hometown’s glitz, glamour, and bimbos. Invigorated by the move, and aided by a returning Albini, The Wedding Present have crafted a worthy answer to Seamonsters, and another rewarding record in a pristine catalog of acid-tongued guitar pop.