City Paper is not for tourists
Moving from London to Leeds over a decade ago, the members of the Wedding Present had few things to differentiate themselves from the other malcontents in the Brit-rock underground. Keeping them from sounding like a cut-rate Smiths clone were singer/songwriter David Gedge’s indie-rock pretensions and relative lack of pop smarts; in distancing his band from the legacy of Joy Division, Gedge somehow milked his voice for even more drama than Ian Curtis had. With the stateside release of the Miniplus EP, a collection of six songs from the import-only Mini LP and three cuts originally released as 7-inch singles, the Wedding Present can also boast staying power. What’s always given Gedge’s brand of terminally depressive doom and gloom a sort of twisted glee is that, despite his guttural wail, the angst is more skin-deep than deeply felt: When he decides on “Mercury” to wear a frown at the party and complain, “I don’t even like champagne, but I’ll drink some,” Gedge is merely exercising his right as a punk to piss on everyone else’s good time. The Wedding Present uses cynicism as grist; what it is milling, however, is nontraditional jangle-pop. The band’s stock-in-trade is writing riffs that never seem to repeat, and tidy, three-minute ditties that never seem to end. With Miniplus giving ample evidence that the Wedding Present’s well is far from running dry, it’s a good bet that when Gedge promises on “Go, Man, Go” that “I’m never coming back again,” he’s only crying wolf.