Album-length collaborations between two established artists are always risky business; for every seemingly-soulless money-grabber (quit trying to hide, Jay-Z and Linkin Park. You know what you did was wrong...), thereâ€™s a genuinely captivating artistic endeavour â€“ step forward, The Pastels and Tenniscoats.So when two big names on the indiepop scene â€“ Stanley Brinks, formerly leading man of Herman Dune
, and The Wave Pictures, Bethnal Greenâ€™s answer to The Modern Lovers â€“ announced the release of their first formal collaboration, following Streets of Philadelphia, a gig-only CD-R, fans of both artists would be right to be as worried as they are excited. That CD-R was a lo-fi delight, with cutesy low-key ballads and pop classics, as well as its perfectly-executed eponymous Springsteen cover. Unfortunately, its ostensible follow-up, Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures
is as uninspired and overlong as its title, with little sign of the breezy poptimism that littered the bandsâ€™ previous material.It opens well enough with â€˜Hi, Janeâ€™, an endearingly breezy acoustic jaunt in the classic-sounding Wave Pictures mould; boasting a set of lyrics that are as lovelorn as they are cheeky (â€œI had idols at the time â€“ it may sound funny to you, but I wanted to be like Bono from U2...â€), the albumâ€™s most addictive melody and an amusing litany of words that rhyme with â€œJaneâ€. It should set the tone for the rest of the album at large, but sadly, itâ€™s followed by a collection of lumberingly unmemorable minor-key plodders.Too much of the album allows David â€œAxemanâ€ Tattersall to indulge in the kind of fretwanking he usually reserves for his bandâ€™s live shows, and the songs themselves just donâ€™t stand up over repeated listens. â€˜End of the Worldâ€™ steals blindly from Violent Femmesâ€™ â€˜Country Death Songâ€™, save any sense of dynamics or drama, while â€˜Keep Your Head Highâ€™ would be fantastic, were it at least twice as fast. Even when the Wave Pictures used to diverge into miserabilia, thereâ€™s enough emotion in Tattersallâ€™s delivery and wit in his lyrics (check 2006â€™s â€˜When I Leave You for Somebody Elseâ€™ for proof) for it to be palatable. Brinks doesnâ€™t quite manage this, instead singing with the kind of idle conviction of someone reading a magazine in a GPâ€™s waiting room. The only other exception is the Buddy Holly-flecked â€˜Why the Martians Are Goneâ€™, which casts Wave Pictures bassist Franic (who puts even less effort into his vocals than Brinks) as a disgruntled extra-terrestrial, working his way across the globe looking for â€œa good country for war.â€Overall, ST/WPs (as itâ€™s likely to be referred to by no one) is a major disappointment; its release now, two years after it was recorded, confuses both artistsâ€™ chronologies â€“ especially frustrating for those Wave Pictures fans waiting for a return to form after last yearâ€™s overlooked If You Leave It Alone
â€“ and should have really been left as a tour release curiosity. As it is, itâ€™s yet another unnecessary addition to both bandsâ€™ rapidly-expanding catalogues, and one further case for bands keeping their art to themselves.