The Wedding Present

Watusi

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Arriving after a Steve Albini-produced trove of mopey wonder (1991's Seamonsters) and a collection of relatively more lighthearted singles (1992's Hit Parade), the Wedding Present's fourth album Watusi found David Gedge and company hitting a particularly brilliant stride in terms of songwriting and creative development alike. Produced by Seattle personality Steve Fisk in a time when "grunge" was a breathless buzzword, there's some rock muscle happening on tracks like "So Long, Baby" and "Shake It" that veers more toward flannel-friendly guitar tones than C-86 fuzz, but the jangly melancholy of the uptempoed "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" finds the perfect balance between the two, with booming drums locking in with spindly guitar lines and electrified organ. Tracks like "Spangle" tap into the band's trademark way with syrupy slow songs of crushing heartbreak, this time supported by the scratchy tones of Fisk's church organ drum machine. Watusi is one of the more dynamic Wedding Present albums, with both songs and production stretching into less predictable territory, presenting Gedge’s by now familiar ruminations on difficult love and disintegrating relationships with an extra dose of daring. The band's straying from the formula is at its best in forms as divergent as the long fits of Velvets-like guitar squall on "Catwoman," and the tender, a cappella back and forth between Gedge and Beat Happening vocalist Heather Lewis on "Click Click," the album’s finest and most impacting moment.

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