Thursday, 4 December 2008

Albums of the Year - Part 1

Oh great, just what the world (not to mention blogosphere) needs: another end-of-year list. I can't justify this with claims to a unique approach, or even if we'll be bucking the critical consensus with our choices. But we are fans of the slow-reveal, so we'll be posting our list of favourite albums over a period of time and in no particular order. This aint a competition, y'know. What anticipation, no doubt...

The Wave PicturesInstant Coffee Baby
(Moshi Moshi)

Music often provides a well-renowned catharsis for those racked with sociopathic impulses and The Wave Pictures are a perfect case in point, forming a distillation of the erudite neurosis of their chief songwriter, Dave Tattersall. By no means a car crash stumbling through illness and destitution ala Television Personalities, The Wave Pictures are a strange amalgam of the joyful and the socially perverse and with Instant Coffee Baby they’ve hit an apotheosis.

The Wave Pictures are driven by the same pop impulses as conceived by Modern Lovers and the Velvet Underground, and channelled by bookish but disarmingly seamy indie icons like Hefner (with whom all three of The Wave Pictures often play). Charged with twisted witticisms and a plague of failed and failing relationships, Instant Coffee Baby is buoyed by a charming power-pop simplicity, offset by an equally soured tongue that’s as sharp as cystitis.

As immediate and affecting as the song writing is here - and they’re certainly a band with the requisite chops, if chops is what you need - it’s the inventive wordplay that truly engages. Tattersall’s shrill whine is an acquired taste perhaps, but it’s pinpoint designed for the tales he weaves. The desperation of each failed sexual endeavour and ridiculous social indiscretion is present in the body of a voice that forever stretches and searches for a note technically better singers find in an instant. And as anyone that has witnessed them live this year will attest, Tattersall is by far the most proficient singer in the band. But it’s in this apparent ‘lack’ that The Wave Pictures shine; virtuosity supplanted (and thankfully so) with a yearning to be heard, suggesting stories that need to be told. It’s pure unfettered jouissance sidled with a literary bent and as such finds itself of a lineage shared with such luminaries as Richman, Bowie and Costello: a heady pantheon indeed.

As Tattersall insistently wails through “I Love You Like Mad Man”, evoking images slightly unnerving for their close-to-the-bone desperation, there’s nevertheless a pervasive and flagrant romanticism that still believes that hearts can be won, broken and fixed through the power of song. And in these cynical times, that’s a belief with which we can all sympathise.

The Wave Pictures - "January and December" (early version of the song that later featured on Instant Coffee Baby)

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