"It's nice to know there at least a few bands out there who never change. As long as they're around, they'll continue to create the music you love (or hate). Three come to mind: Yo La Tengo, Superchunk, and the Wedding Present. If you liked them when they first hit the scene, I don't see why you wouldn't like them now when the quality control remains high and their basic sound remains intact.
I don't mean to suggest that they do the same thing every time or that their line-ups have remained static over the years; it's just that they've never jumped the shark. And if they haven't done so after 20+ years, I doubt they ever will.
On their eighth studio recording, the Wedding Present's David Gedge still sings in the conversational manner that first won hearts in the mid-1980s. And if he writes about "girls" rather than women, there's nothing lecherous or condescending about his tone. He's as erudite as ever, with references to Gable and Lombardóand words like "bereft"óbut he's always managed to keep pretentiousness at bay.
Aside from the jangle-pop confessionals you'd expect, Valentina adds some international flair with "The Girl from the DDR," a German-English duet, and "Mystery Date," which features a Japanese vocalist (DDR = Deutsche Demokratische Republik). Without credits, alas, I'm unable to identify the ladies.
Granted, it's hardly the first time they've incorporated other languages into their work, i.e. a French track on George Best, the entirety of Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela, etc. According to the press notes, the band recorded the release in "the wilds of France, the suburbs of Los Angeles, and the lanes of Brighton."
In addition, bass player Pepe Le Moko, who joined the group in 2010, adds enchanting vocal harmonies to set highlight "524 Fidelio," which revolves around a rollicking drum pattern from Charles LaytonóGedge really should let her take the lead at some pointóand there's also a feedback-laden instrumental "Back a Bit...Stop (Part 2)," which recalls the Breeders at their noisiest. I've listened to this record at least four times now, and it just keeps getting better and better. " The Stranger
"Leeds based band The Wedding Present have had a turbulent and epic history since their inception, years ago in the mid eighties. But, the spirit seems not to have been lost, as they seem ready to shoot back on to the scene with their latest album, Valentina, an album recorded and produced by tiny label, Scopitones, set up and maintained by the bandís lead singer David Gedge.
Itís good, too - itís vintage-sounding rock Ďní roll. One can almost imagine music videos to the songs in black and white. It sounds aged, mature and thoughtful, with a happy, head-bopping kind of twist. Itís enough to keep the listener on their toes throughout the whole album, and there are some major shifts in how songs sound halfway through the songs themselves, such as the abrupt change from fast paced rock music to a haunting, buzzing synth sound on Back a Bit... Stop, which was totally unexpected. Also, the rapid change in pace on Girl from the DDR is another good example of this. It makes it sound interesting, free and creative.
The Wedding Present, as a band, have a lot of history behind them, and as such a lot of songwriting experience. So, itís only natural that they should have a more mature sound than perhaps some more mainstream, modern indie bands, and thatís exactly whatís happened here. Itís a mixture of old-fashioned rock and roll and newer styled indie music, so itís therefore bound to appeal to a wide audience. Itís catchy, and also sounds like it can be used in many contexts Ė itís good background music, but itís also music that can be listened to intently, and enjoyed wholly in either situation.
Vocally, Gedgeís voice lends itself perfectly to the retro rock Ďní roll style. Itís melancholy without being depressing, tuneful without being over-the-top and masculine without being gravelly. Itís somewhere in the middle of pop-rock, indie and old-school, early-nineties grunge, and the fact that itís so accessible and at the same time so unique is one of the things that makes it good to listen to.
The band have a long had a standing of deliberately not signing to a major label. So, this isnít commercialised, manufactured music, itís music thatís been written, honed to perfection and then recorded in a small studio, the way music was, in their opinion, meant to be made, not made on a computer and plastered all over the Internet. Itís an ode to Ďsticking it to the maní in a less-punk-more-rock-orientated kind of way, an ode to freedom of expression and songwriting creativity. Itís pleasant to hear.
Some, more Ďnew mainstream musicí orientated listeners might feel like it sounds like itís recorded in a very Ďretroí way which they might find sounds a bit Ďoldí for them Ė because of the fact that it obviously hasnít been manufactured and processed. To many people, yours truly included, it will sound genuine and distinctly Ďnot-artificialí, but to others it might sound antiquated.
But, on the other hand, maybe thatís what itís meant to sound like, seeing as The Wedding Present have claimed that they have, since their outset, been ďrefusing to play the record industryís gameĒ. By making their album sound deliberately Ďold-schoolí, it reinforces the idea that anyone can make, record and distribute their music without the help of a professional label. Itís a good idea, it brings the idea of making music away from the commercial and, in some senses, unreachable and makes it more about creativity and freedom. Itís refreshing and pleasant, and it brings the band closer to their audience.
Some might even view this as a little bit Ďgimmickyí, but in this reviewers mind theyíre a band thatís taken the idea of Ďindieí to the extreme that, in some ways, actually needs to be done. Itís music with a message, and that message is to make and enjoy music for what it is Ė not a business.
Overall, then, itís a total gem of a record, an excellent sounding, excellently written and recorded album. The Wedding Present may have been around for a while, deliberately avoiding major record labels in favour of musical and creative freedom, but it sounds like itís a formula that works for them, and itís a formula that helps them make good music that all can enjoy. A solid 8/10." poppedculture.co.uk
"GIVEN that the average wedding gift is discarded within months of the nuptials, it's ironic that Leeds band the Wedding Present have survived for the best part of 25 years, albeit with a regular lineup turnover and an extended hiatus in the late 1990s. On the eve of their first Australian tour, the Wedding Present return with Valentina, their third album since re-forming in 2004. At its heights, Valentina is on par with the band's defining output of yore. Tracks such as You're Dead and The Girl From the DDR affirm principal member David Gedge's ongoing ability to blend emotional imagery with a classic pop sensibility, and just enough rough edge to keep them on the fringe of polite radio company. While Meet Cute errs on the soppy side of poetic narrative, Back a Bit Ö Stop, Deer Caught in the Headlights and End Credits pack enough angular post-punk punch to deny any suggestion of middle-aged malaise. The Wedding Present still have plenty to give.
" Patrick Emery, The Age EG