Seven Wonders of the World

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David Gedge, who formed Cinerama in 1997 after dissolving the Wedding Present to explore his interests in film music and sophisticated pop, clearly enjoyed turning out singles on a regular basis in between sessions for full-length albums, and seemingly aware that some fans weren't likely to track them all down, he periodically released compilations that would collect the stray Cinerama tracks that had surfaced on 7"s. This was the idea behind 2000's This Is Cinerama and 2003's Cinerama Holiday, and more than a decade after Cinerama went into semi-retirement, Gedge has finally completed the cycle with 2014's Seven Wonders of the World, a collection of material from five late-period singles as well as a live-in-the-studio session recorded for radio broadcast. Cinerama was that rare indie pop band that sounded intelligent, refined, and muscular at once; while there was a delicacy to Gedge's melodies, and the arrangements were often dotted with strings and horns, the music never sounded twee, and the rough-hewn force of Simon Cleave's guitar was enough to brush away any hint of arty or airy pretense. The material on Seven Wonders of the World follows Cinerama's waning days, as Gedge slowly but surely retooled the band into a new edition of the Wedding Present, and the latter tracks do recall that band's more jangly approach than the big-screen pop of tracks like "Health and Efficiency," "Swim," and "Sparkle Lipstick," but Gedge's favorite themes of romantic gamesmanship are present throughout, and his gift for songwriting and record making is present on every track (including the intimate acoustic performances that appear on a bonus disc). The set also includes French language versions of two tunes, in which Gedge uses the opportunity to recast "Health and Efficiency" and "Lollobrigida" in a different and more contemplative light, and the acoustic tracks show the songs work even in the most elemental arrangements. Seven Wonders of the World isn't the best collection of Cinerama's non-LP work, but the consistent quality leaves no doubt that the group's overlooked final gestures were still the work of a unique and masterful band.

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