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City Forgiveness by The Wave Pictures
What could be better than finding out that perennial cracklefeedback favourites have a new long player for us all to devour? Getting a copy and finding it’s a double album of course. The very antithesis of those never-really-finding-the-time-to-fit-it-in bands who take years, decades even, to clump together a big enough bunch of mostly disappointing efforts in order to simultaneously please/appease both record company and their public alike; The Wave Pictures, through design or chance, have settled upon a course of annual album output – or at least had until now – this being, dare I mention it again, twice the number of songs we might have expected, and with no sense of any slips or dips in quality – this is a 20 track showcase of everything that makes them such an alluring and enjoyable proposition, a by-now-customary ride through style and genre, through themes both dark and light, that never loses any sense of who’s at the wheel. As on each of their releases to date, they happily play hard and fast with the conventions of country, folk, blues, pop and the rest, with neither the merest hint of difficulty nor the slightest thought crossing your mind that this could be anybody other than The Wave Pictures.
"Leave The Scene Behind", "If You Leave It Alone", “Kittens”, “Blue Harbour”, “Stay here and take care of the chickens” – if history teaches us anything of any real importance ever, it’s that here is a band with an unwavering knack for starting a record with a statement - a “this is what we’ll be doing this time round, you’re going to love it” way of setting the tone – “All my friends” certainly takes up the mantle with unshakable self-belief, five minutes odd of those trademarks we’ve now become accustomed to – the effortless raconteurial picture-painting of Tattersall’s lyrics, the wild, off-the-cuff showman guitar solos, and the ever thoughtful, ever dependable melodic bass and drums backing of Franic Rozycki and Jonny ''Huddersfield'' Helm. As we progress through tracks, they progress through those many and varied elements that contribute so much to the sense that there is no end of scope in their repertoire – never is there a suggestion that they might be chancing plagiarists mind, as could be the case with some who take a more ripping-off and stealing approach to composition – this is learned adoption and appropriation, forged into their own defined style through years and albums’ worth of refinement and fine-tuning. Dilettantes they are not. What they certainly are though, is prolific – a relentless song writing juggernaut of a thing – and are made capable of being so through what seems like and encyclopaedic knowledge and understanding of those things which provide them with inspiration. Each album seems to be a product of allowing one or two genres to come to the fore whilst simultaneously allowing the others a little rest – you can be assured though that here or there they’ll throw in a little curveball to break-up things from getting too one-sided. On “City forgiveness” there’s certainly a prevalent mood of soul-drenched, boozy, late-night bluesy-ness with some rootsy rock n’ roll, rhythm and blues, garage thing going around it – “The Yellow Roses”, “The Woods”, the brilliant “Lisbon” and “Chestnut”, “Tropic”, “shell”, “The ropes”, “Narrow lane” all uniquely fit into this grouping in some way or another – hard to categorise individually as just one or the other, but all fitting into the theme of things. Dotted in between are little gems of light-heartedness - tracks like “Missoula”, “Red cloud road (part 2)”, and “Whisky Bay” have that twee pop sound about them that the band like to dabble in so as to be not all darkness, because being down all the time would never suit them. Then there’s “Atlanta” , sung by drummer Helm (as often a track or two per album are), which stands out alone as sounding like something of a departure – it’s difficult to pinpoint to where exactly, but it’s certainly not a sound or style they’ve hit before, and it’s wonderful. Great praise must go to them for keeping things this entertaining, engaging and interesting across 20 tracks on this their umpteenth album. The Wave Pictures are a gem of a band – and rather than showing signs of creative waning, as one might expect by now, they actually seem to be speeding up!