By: Eric Greenwood
Even in its heyday, The Wedding Present played the role of perennial underdog, hopping from label to label and barely scratching even the most outer rims of accepted circles in the United States, where it has languished in relative obscurity since its inception in the
mid-1980’s. In its homeland across the pond, however, The Wedding Present rode an impressive post-Smiths wave of single sales and courted a devoted audience thanks to David Gedge’s oddly eccentric vocal style, lightning fast rhythm guitars, and the undying support of Radio 1 DJ, John Peel.
To make matters worse for itself in America, the band took an eight-year hiatus, where Gedge dropped The Wedding Present moniker to form a duo with his then-girlfriend, Sally Murrell, called Cinerama. The latter band’s retro-leaning, Bacharach-inspired indie pop traded The Wedding Present’s legendarily quick guitar strumming and raucous
dynamics for orchestral arrangements and whispered harmonies. The result left most Wedding Present fans yearning for Gedge’s edge and growling yelp to return, but his charmingly conversational wordplay kept naysayers at bay, especially as Cinerema slowly turned up the guitars on each album, peaking in 2002 for the Steve Albini-produced Torino.
With Gedge’s 14-year relationship with Murrell in tatters, he decided to resurrect The Wedding Present brand name for its first album since 1996’s Saturnalia. Take Fountain was produced by the 1990’s go-to noise engineer Steve Fisk (Unwound), who first worked with the band on The Wedding Present’s 1994 classic, Watusi. Take Fountain doesn’t sound like The Wedding Present so much as a slightly harder-edged Cinerama, but Gedge’s lovelorn wordplay is in top form, as he recounts his painful break-up, play by play. The lead single, “Interstate 5”, is hypnotic, careening with chiming guitars that morph into weird soundtrack motifs in the dénouement.
Gedge's girl trouble has always been his pivotal muse. He relates the details with less ambiguity and less force than in The Wedding Present's prime ("Mars Sparkles Down One Me"), but the agony in his voice is unmistakable, even without crashing guitars hammering the point home. On Take Fountain Gedge uses his sharpened songwriting chops to present his case and again proves himself a master of the pop song. It's just that sometimes it feels like routine. The better he gets at songwriting, the less quirky the songs are, and it's the eccentricity that is missed because that's where the personality is.