"..and you said 'no, I'm not from the south, I am from further north than you'.."
And so began the latest instalment in the torrid love life of one David Lewis Gedge. The hero of the piece had documented earlier loves and losses throughout the catalogues of The Wedding Present (the early years), and latterly Cinerama, but these latest chapters seemed a little more heartfelt, a little more raw and real. Gone are the days when snippets from films, overheard telephone calls and eavesdropped conversations provided the basis for his tales
of broken hearts, illicit liaisons, stolen moments of passion, and episodes of devastation; these days David Gedge has a broken heart of his own and the remains of a fourteen year relationship providing a deep well of inspiration from which to draw. In the past Gedge has always maintained that his songs were not autobiographical, and it was a fair point – even the most ardent lothario couldn't possible squeeze so much flirtation into his life whilst maintaining
the steady interest of his long time partner and musical collaborator, but by his own admission after his split from Sally his song writing became darker and more personal, to the point where upon first listening Sally was unable to listen to the forthcoming album 'Take Fountain' as it was just too raw, too close to home.
'I'm From Further North Than You' is a perfect pop song, coming in at three and a half minutes it appears much more radio friendly than it's predecessor 'Interstate 5', it's much more upbeat with a more middle of the road mix. The sound still retains the signature two part guitar structure, with a listener friendly balance between clean and teetering overdrive. It would be fair to say that this song alone draws on all aspects of The Wedding Presents
history, the basic song structure reflects the naivety of George Best, the melodious harmonies suggest the more tuneful Bizarro era, whist the educated, intelligent structure, arrangement and rudimentary production lean towards the Seamonsters days. There are also elements of Cinerama included, from the lush backing vocal 'oohs' and 'ahhs' to the subverted and heavily underlain xylophone
The narrative is that of someone coming to terms with the end of a relationship, facing up to defeat, recognising that although times were good, and would undoubtedly be again at some time in the future, that things just were not right, it wasn't working, and that this should be the end. It's hard to come around to this way of thinking, the upbeat tempo, the joyful melody line, the days of '..counting planets in the sky..' and the times that
'..I just couldn't help but smile.' are all hooked up and reeled back in with the refrain '..and I admit we've had some memorable days, but just not very many..'. It's a harsh tale, told with passion and conviction, with tenderness and sensitivity, and with a damn good tune.
The press blurb claims that 'I'm From Further North Than You' is "far and away better than anything that The Wedding Present have released previously", a bold claim indeed, but in a way I am inclined to agree. This song takes all that is good about David Gedge and what has gone before and moulds it into a song that encapsulates it all. It should please all his fans, even the ones who either slipped away, chose to ignore, or were just indifferent to Cinerama. It should, and that is a big should appeal to the wider masses, it has the accessibility of Cinerama, the intensity of Seamonsters, and the melody of Bizarro. How can this possibly fail?
B-sides 'Rekindling' and 'The Girl with the Curious Smile' again show a diversity in both Gedges songwriting talents, and indeed in his well documented influences. Whilst 'Rekindling' is a typically Wedding Present number, strong clean guitar arpeggios doing battle with insistent layers of distort which climax to a thrilling crescendo; 'The Girl with the Curious Smile'
is a direct take from the writers previously recorded love of film scores. Musically it is absolute Morricone, it's borderline John Barry, and it works. The opening whistling evokes images of Gedge, driven and dusty, walking slowly into into a wild west town, whilst the strings over the extended outro are a definitive hark back to Cinerama - a body of work that David is rightly proud of, and if it converts a few of those returning to the fold with the return of
The Wedding Present then that can be no bad thing.
And with that, I'll kiss you full on the mouth, and then you'll know...
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