Averaging an album a year since their move to the Big Smoke in 2006, The Wave Pictures have certainly made up in longevity and proliferation what they have lacked in commercial success. Produced by their hero Billy Childish, on entirely vintage equipment, this longplayer may be the one that changes the pattern.
A band that have always hung just below my radar, latest single Pea Green Coat, a nostalgia laden, Snug-esque three minute retro-pop fizz, with its accompanying heavily stylized Britflick promo, made me sit up and take that little bit more notice. A raucous but decidedly English take on blues rock, the guitars are the obvious highlight, cranking along with a skill that is hidden in the exuberance of their melody, and the album as a whole is not so different from this lead track.
It's a pleasant enough take on absurdist Small Faces type fare, set apart by David Tattersall's distinctive vocal, that conjures up memories of smoke filled rooms that don't feel wholly mine. Stand out track Green River features a harmonica that's more Beale Street than Britain, but thanks to the witty cynicism of the lyrics remains definitely on this side of the Atlantic. Reminiscent in places of Liverpool gobsters Tramp Attack, there's an appealing cheekiness to it, missing only on the slower tempoed At Dusk You Took Down The Blinds, an attempt at sincerity that messes up the flow.
Ultimately, despite the promise of that single, it's a collection of tracks that manage to be both instantly catchy and soon forgotten. This may indeed be the album that provides the coalesce between critical acclaim and money in the bank, but you get the impression that they really don't care that much, and the music suffers from that. It's not that the proverbial “making it big” is the be all and end all of musical endeavour, but, this far down the line, they lack the hunger, the need to spill everything out like you might not get another chance that is the USP of newer acts. It's lively, but it's comfortable, like taking that extra glass of wine on a school night, compared to calling in sick and waking up in Paris.
There's nothing wrong with that in real life, but in music, the escapism and vicarious life is surely part of the charm.
Words - Angi Strafford
The Wave Pictures Official