Cinerama

Valentina

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AllMusic Review by

David Gedge's long-held dream was to release a Wedding Present and a Cinerama album at the same time, with different versions of the same songs on each. The Wedding Present album would be typically energetic and guitar-driven; Cinerama's would be highly arranged and, well, cinematic. Even though he missed out on having them released concurrently, he realized most of his dream with the release of Cinerama's Valentina in 2015. Recorded a year after the debut of the Wedding Present's Valentina, the album wraps Gedge's songs in lush strings, tinkling pianos, showbiz-y horns, and swooning female backing vocals. The arrangements are courtesy of Pedro Vigil, and the vocals by ex-Wedding Present bassist Terry de Castro. Vigil does a fantastic job of taking the simple Wedding Present template and expanding it into a widescreen Technicolor explosion of sound that fills every nook of available space with some kind of fancy instrument or other. "Stop Thief!," for example, is like an imagined meeting between Ennio Morricone and Burt Bacharach with the Tindersticks and about ten of their friends playing the instruments. Most of the album is made up of the kind of big ballads that sound like Vegas showstoppers, though occasionally Cinerama drop an uptempo number that allows Gedge (or on "End Credits," de Castro) a chance to strut a little as the orchestra revs up behind them. It's a big, big sound no matter the tempo and volume level, and Gedge works hard to fill the center with his vocals, drawing out lines and playing with his phrasing to fit the varied moods. De Castro is invaluable in softening his agile bark, providing a soft pillow for listeners to rest their heads upon. The swooning strings that drift in and out of songs provide much the same service. Cinerama 2.0 is a much more elaborate experience than the original version; everything is bigger and more blown-out. It really feels like a dream come true and Gedge sounds like he's having the time of his life fronting the orchestra. Anyone who has stuck with him and the Weddoes all along will find it just as much a blast as he does.

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