THE WEDDING PRESENT Going Going Gone
I can't keep track of how many Wedding Present albums there are : I don't particularly care. It's thirty years since “George Best” and it's a very different band – and a better one - in every way since then. Whilst the traditional view is that the Wedding Present (whoever they are these days, though this is the first album by this configuration who have been together a number of years now) are that noisy, one-dimensional jangle jangle act that did “Brassneck” and “Kennedy”, they've come a very very long way since then.
“Going, Going, Gone” is a expansive, 80 minutes of post-rock, instrumental glory – it's ten minutes before David Gedges voice is heard in the third song, and even then, it's a wordless croon for the duration.
This is one of the best Wedding Present records. Given that “Seamonsters” and “Take Fountain” are amongst the best records ever made to my ears, that's high praise. Though, this is in effect two albums – an opening instrumental salvo of gorgeous post-rock – alongside a fine selection of songs. There's a harsh entrance of actual song (which would be solved by moving two songs slow-build songs with rising vocals - “Sprague” and “Emporia” - ahead in the running order). But of those songs, stuff like “Two Bridges”, “Broken Bow”, “Bear”, “Bells” are all equal to any previous Wedding Present high watermark. And the band sounds more democratic than it has for a long time – new styles, new vocals, and an evolution of the bands sound. This does have its downsides, as “Secretary” is a brash and insubstantial song, and my least favourite song by the band since the mid 1980's. But then even songs such as “Fordland” are already hidden diamonds in the bands enormous catalogue.
It's a fib to call it a concept album, though it sort of is. If the concept is “Songs that aren't rubbish”. (Or, perhaps, what is more accurate is that the songs revolve around the idea of the narrative of a relationship, loosely termed). An 80 minute set of songs is a tough sell in this day and age, where there's everything competing against everything else for ever smaller amounts of money. It's unlikely The Wedding Present will win many new fans, but if they can continue to make music this good, I'm overjoyed they just get to exist.