In October, reviewing their last EP Pigeon, Tom Whyman questioned whether the market wasn’t becoming a tiny bit oversaturated with The Wave Pictures releases. Well, less than a year on from Instant Coffee Baby and after two EPs between then and now here comes a full album. Their eighth, including self-financed releases, and apparently there may be another full length release on the way before 2009 is up. When a band’s on a roll, they’re really on a roll. (That figure, by the way, doesn’t include the Dave Tattersall/Andre Herman Dune collaboration, or indeed Andre Herman Dune Sings The Wave Pictures, or drummer Jonny Helm’s solo release or the Dan Of Green Gables album that Tattersall wrote and sang on, both from last year. Following this band’s discography is a job in itself.)
Those who’ve come across Wymeswold’s finest before will largely know what to expect here – a very English take on the Velvets/Jonathan Richman line of stripped back, unglamorous indie rock’n'roll. They’re lyrically vaulting and imagery heavy yet safely grounded in small town reality with the wittiest, neatest turn of phrase since Jarvis stopped bothering, and possibly including that too, sung by a man in a slightly nasal accent. Actually, there’s less of the Hefner about this one as, while background information is at time of writing thin on the ground, this seems to be a more home-brewed, acoustic set than Instant Coffee Baby. It’s an album that, if it wasn’t recorded on the fly in one take, it certainly sounds like it was judging by, in one glaring example during the splendidly titled ‘Bye Bye Bubble Belly’, some handclaps go completely awry. How do you mess up recorded synced handclaps?
The title track is an interesting diversion in their terms, built on a slow, slinky bassline and featuring a languid brass section before Tattersall attempts to paint himself as a bedsit lo-fi soul man. Albeit one which sees him gather the idea for a song from a note on his fridge. From then on it’s pretty much as you’d imagine, not that there’s much wrong with that at all. ‘Canary Wharf’ runs on a Johnny Cash rhythm and contains the very un-Cash lyric “I wrote my name on a banana peel/There should always be a meal with my name on it”, after which ‘My Kiss’ starts with the positivist assertion “I beat the hypnotist”, featuring exuberant la-la-laing in place of a chorus and another brass fanfare. It’s a glorious statement of tone even if it does carry on for about thirty seconds too long. What additional instrumentation there is is stripped even further back for the gorgeous love song ‘I Thought Of You Again’. Tattersall claims to have written “a thousand verses, each one about doctors and nurses, on paper napkins in diners”, extends his Richman originating habit of self-referencing with a namecheck for “the Tattersall check shirt”, goes to a bar and notes “twenty, thirty people in clusters on the floor looking anywhere but at each other” and eventually claims that he was reminded of ‘you’ “when the police took my passport” and “when the pissed up student girls teased me with the sound of my own name”.
‘Tiny Craters In The Sand’ (“we will lose our marbles over time/I will lose yours, you will lose mine”) is basically a rewrite of ‘Leave The Scene Behind’ and features the best example on the album of Tattersall’s indie God soloing, or as much as he can on an acoustic. ‘Too Many Questions’ is a bluesy shuffle about the hope for uncomplicated love – “in an instant best forgotten we went from right to rotten” – in which, next to one of rock’s few shout outs to “the penguin march at Whipsnade Zoo”, Tattersall hopes for “a boy who’ll treat me right”.
You get the picture. As ever with the Wave Pictures, it’s recorded with never a thought to upgrading to shiny production standards. When the playing is this loose, everyone’s having fun and the listeners are being attracted by Tattersall’s pin-sharp lyrics where the devil is in the detail and the love stories expand the minor details in the telling, which can be quite heart-rending at times. As lovely and pleasing as it is it’s not quite Instant Coffee Baby, but then a) in this sphere what is? and b) with a band this prolific and this dead-on quality control dips so little that it barely matters.