Review of Long Black Cars Album by The Wave Pictures

Having been around for a good fifteen years now, while releasing nigh on thirty records in that time - an average of two for every year of their existence - The Wave Pictures have become something of a national institution. Loved in equal measures by lo-fi purists, anorak wearing C86 revivalists and just about everyone else with a passing interest in curious musical eccentricity, the announcement of a new Wave Pictures record isn't so much greeted by jumps of joy, but more cries of "About bloody time!"

The Wave Pictures Long Black Cars Album

Whereas last year's 'Beer In The Breakers' represented a fairly sombre affair compared to a lot of what had gone before it, album number twelve 'Long Black Cars' is a return to the playful lyricism and overtly obvious double entendres David Tattersall's writing credits have become synonymous with. Indeed, it would be difficult to envisage The Wave Pictures main singer/songwriter embarking on a different route, and while comparisons to another prolific Great British institution The Wedding Present persist, we're more inclined to use Gordon Gano and The Violent Femmes as a more accurate point of reference.

Certainly opener 'Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens' could quite easily have clambered off their self-titled 1983 opus. Constructed around a simple melody, Tattersall insisting "Maybe these are the eyes that will guide you out of your mind," it's a welcome introduction to the latest instalment of an ongoing soap opera that shows no signs of abating just yet. Tattersall's penchant for sophisticated laments and sideways dichotomy at its peak on the acoustic-led 'Come Home Tessa Buckman'. "The air hangs heavy but the weight is delicious" he declares while imploring the object of his desire to come home.

Likewise on the fortuitous 'My Head Gets Screwed On Tighter Every Year', Tattersall's observing "Sixteen tons of skin and bone, you're fighting the octopus all on your own." As wordsmiths go, he has a knack of writing some of the finest these Isles have produced in recent years. Occasionally however, the simplistic arrangements can become a little repetitive and while not entirely grating, its difficult to stay focused throughout.

Drummer Jonny Helm also raises his head above the parapet on a couple of numbers. 'Eskimo Kiss' and 'Give Me A Second Chance' both exhibit rockier climates than a lot of 'Long Black Cars', Helm assertively pointing out on the latter "I threw myself down at your feet." Penultimate strummer 'Seagulls' bastardises the melody from Buddy Holly's 1958 hit while the closing title track gives the record a concept vibe of sorts, Tattersall referencing the 'Long Black Cars' to welcome his brother home.

Business as usual then for Loughborough's finest exports. As we're still only in May, who's to say there won't be another album to follow before the year's out?


Dom Gourlay

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