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A review of...
Long Black Cars by The Wave Pictures
The Wave Pictures are certainly prolific, theirs is a work ethic which has so far provided an album a year since the breakthrough, and officially seventh, album Instant Coffee Baby – this alongside solo albums, collaborations and a commendable approach to gigging that see’s them playing almost monthly in some form or another (an attribute that no doubt helps swell the numbers when it comes to musical friends and fans alike). Loveable they are, ones to champion to anyone who’ll care to listen and ones who, when news of a new release being imminent arrives, it’s only right to get excited... and with Long Black Cars they do not disappoint. This, their 12th outing, sees them in rather exploratory mood. As always there are the stories, frontman David Tattersall’s deliciously detailed creations and observations about the ordinary and the everyday, arguably the most enjoyable, if not the best, lyricist you might hope to stumble-upon in his generation, no shouting from the roof-top of self-proclamation, but a humble, wry, witty and whimsical way with everything – nothing gets passed by, and even the most humdrum can feel safe for inclusion in some well woven metaphor of sorts, like for instance in the line “wild hair tumbling from the centre of your skull like spaghetti, I knew then that you’d never forget me” from "Spaghetti" . And then there is the music – first up is brilliantly-crafted opener "Stay here and take care of the chickens" which once again gives evidence of that strange Dire Straits influence that has served them so well in the past. At once moody, atmospheric, lolloping, galloping, spiked with Knopfler-esque guitar and an introductory “Stay here” from each band member, it brings things in wonderfully. "Eskimo Kiss" changes style if not tone instantly – drummer Johnny ‘Huddersfield’ Helm takes vocal duties for the first of his two lead singer turns on the album, fronting a garage rumble paean about those earlier explored themes of cinnamon and women’s shoes from the band’s previous efforts. "Never go home again" is pure Wave Pictures, drenched with description, a sing-a-long chorus and effortless melodic interplay between Tattersall and bassist Franic Rozycki. "My head gets screwed on tighter every year" and "Cut them down" could just as easily be described this way too, all are so obviously the children of these parents, yet all have enough individuality to make them quite uniquely different. "Hoops" rolls along like prime Dylan, it may seem like an unusual destination but definitely works. "Spaghetti" then finds them shift to hoe-down mode, we’ve been here before, it’s a good place to be. "Give me a second chance" gives Helm his second stab at being frontman and much like "Eskimo Kiss", energetically recalls the lo-fi surf and garage of the 60s if not being slightly more angular in terms of melody. "The west country" is probably the most feral and proto track offered up - stripped back and sparse, its half-vengeful, half-wistful but all explosive chorus “Sarah, i hope you’re doing very well” marks new stylistic territory in that it genuinely feels a little angry. Following this, "Tessa Buckman" is beautifully down-tempo, longing and heartfelt, and acts as an immediate antidote. "Seagulls" bobs and weaves its way along lyrically and musically, through jangly-guitar, slap-back bass, and some welcome cowbell, until resting and revelling in its joyously defiant join-in chorus/outro of “You’ve got a lot of nerve, to come round here like this”, reminding us how jubilant the band have always seemed in confronting adversity. Unfortunately title track "Long back cars" brings everything to an all-too premature end, although does so in suitably celebratory fashion. It’s a cheeky romp of a scamp of a song that, with a couple of superbly playful pre-chorus pauses, also manages to cram a bit of everything that we love about them across its short few minutes. Whilst Long Black Cars isn’t their finest album, it doesn’t matter, because with bands as good and as giving as The Wave Pictures are, each album is still an absolute joy to journey through. Bless their benevolence.