Editors' pick

The Wedding Present

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Editorial Review

THE WEDDING PRESENT
Album review: "Valentina"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, Mar. 16, 2012

Breathless and romantic, the Wedding Present's style seems inherently adolescent. Two hyperactive guitars take off at a gallop while gruff-voiced singer-lyricist David Gedge tries to keep pace with them - and with his own fevered emotions. This lusty approach still dominates the British quartet's sound on its new album, "Valentina," released 27 years after the band formed.

Gedge, the group's only original member, mothballed the Wedding Present from 1997 to 2004 in favor of Cinerama, a lusher-sounding combo that included a female co-vocalist. Echoes of that project can be heard on "Valentina," which features slower passages and frequent female guests (speaking and singing in German and Japanese as well as in English). But the gentler moments are just setups for the next churning-guitar crescendo or brokenhearted outburst.

Although Gedge is not a young man anymore, he's still dazed by love and amazed by women. As he asks wonderingly in "Back a Bit . . . Stop," one of the album's stormiest numbers, "How does a girl like you / Get to be a girl like you?"

Gedge will probably never solve that mystery. But as long as he has a version of the Wedding Present behind him, he'll have the proper musical setting for his ecstatic bewilderment.