The Wedding Present -- El Rey

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A couple of weeks ago
I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. My first review was of The Walkmen's You & Me which I found lacking to say the least. Second up was We Started Nothing by the Ting Tings, which was better than the Walkmen, had a couple of great songs, but in the end it was clear that the Ting Tings were not going to my next favorite band. I thought that The Kings of Leon’s album Only by the Night was good, not great and ultimately unsatisfying. That leaves me with The Wedding Present and El Rey. An I am happy to say that the long wait was worth it, I found a new band to get excited about.

The Wedding Present is interesting in that it is kind of a new band that’s been around for a long time. In fact, The Wedding Present first came about in the late 1980’s and had a critically acclaimed album, Seamonsters, in 1991 (recorded in Minnesota!). The band broke up and singer/songwriter David Gedge and girlfriend/bandmember Sally Murrell formed the band Cinerama, releasing a number of albums in the 90’s and 2000’s. The Wedding Present was somewhat kept alive by the release of singles, Peel Session recordings and by the cultish fans. Finally, in 2005 Gedge formed a band under the Wedding Present name and released El Rey earlier this year.

El Rey is an album that I loved from the first listen. Swirling, chugging guitars, funny lyrics with definite influences coming from Yo La Tengo. And contrast to let’s say The Walkmen, the songs are infectious and fun to listen to. I can’t stress the later point enough. The lyrics aren’t listed on the CD, which in many cases I wouldn’t care, but the songs were so engaging I searched for the lyrics so that get a better sense of the songs.

Relationships between the sexes dominate El Rey as the singer is constantly faced with appealing women who make him question the current relationship he is in. In fact the first three songs seem to be one story about a guy who falls for a women even though he is in a relationship with another and the resulting fallout. In the first song, Santa Ana Winds, the chorus goes: “When she says: “I’m handing myself to you entirely, completely? Before asking, sweetly: “And are you falling for me too?? And that’s when I pretend that I don’t have a girlfriend.? This is followed up in the next song Spiderman on Hollywood where it’s obvious he’s had to face the music with his old girlfriend and comes up with this great line: “And that’s what’s so funny, honey. You’ve looked like my girl for so long that I thought you would always be beside me. But I’d be the first to admit I was wrong.? Finally in I Lost the Monkey, it all comes crashing apart: “Because I just want you back This has all been a mistake; I didn’t know what was at stake I was playing some kind of senseless game.? A few songs later in Trouble with Men, the singer may be a few years older but still has problems with choosing between women:

Don’t say: “Hello? You’re far too gorgeous for me and I know that if I talk to you then I’ll raise my hopes up again And I will spend all weekend wondering if you could be my girlfriend Instead of loving my wife and getting on with my life

The album is full of songs and lyrics like that and is a hoot to listen to. Probably my favorite song is Don’t Take Me Home Until I am Drunk in which the singer is on a perfect date and then blurts out they he’s falling in love. She replies that she likes him too and then texts(!) him the next day saying she’s getting back with her fiancé. Ouch! What is really cool about this song is that the guitar solo after that little scene is a frantic frenzy of slashing power chords. It really represents what someone would be feeling at this moment: anger, embarrassment, sadness all rolled up in jangly mess.

I could go but you get the picture. El Rey is a fantastic album of catchy songs, fuzzy guitars, and solid rhythm. I think I found a new favorite band.

2 Comments

By all means, get some more Weddoes, fa. Seamonsters, Watusi, and especially Bizarro are all excellent records.

er, that was me...

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on October 21, 2008 1:48 PM.

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