The Wedding Present


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Valentina is the Wedding Present's ninth full-length album, the third since David Gedge shut down Cinerama and went back to using the WP name. It's also the first time in 12 years Gedge has been without the services of bassist Terry DeCastro; though she did stick around long enough to provide a few backing vocals. Otherwise, longtime fans will be glad to hear that nothing else has changed. Nothing at all! Almost every note, lyric, and sound could have appeared on any Weddoes record of the past 20 years or so without any problem. Lyrically, Gedge is still wrestling with the same relationship issues, sorting through the emotional debris with his usual mix of arch detachment and brutal honesty. Any worries that he's run out of pain are unfounded; witness heart-tuggers like "Stop Thief" or patented kiss offs like "You're Dead" for proof of that sad (for Gedge) fact. His voice, too, sounds unweathered by time and failed relationships. It's as if the suffering keeps him young in some weird way. Not a recommended anti-ageing strategy, but it seems to work for him. The band is actually much younger than Gedge, and they play with a restrained, subtle fury that tends to break out during choruses and extended instrumental breaks. Though Steve Albini isn't in the engineer's chair this time around, the sound of the album has the same heavy thud and live guitar presence that he's known for. All this familiarity could easily breed boredom and make it easy to write the band off if it weren't for the passion, wit, and energy Gedge and his band of young guns bring to the album. Nothing on Valentina will make anyone forget Seamonsters or Watusi, but if you've made it this far with the band, there's no reason to cast them aside now. And as long as Gedge keeps striking out so spectacularly with the ladies, he could easily keep delivering records as tough and true as this one until he's carted away for the last time.

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