By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Critiquing music is all about confusing people. No jokeits a bunch of semi-arbitrary adjectives pieced together in an effort to make people go: Wow, this guy must really know what hes talking about, because I have no idea what he just said. Sweeping guitars? Typically quixotic (and enjoyable) crooning about love or the lack thereof? Fuzzy landscapes painted by hearty percussion and sly bass lines? Really? What does that even mean? Well, whatever it means, thats what encapsulates the Wedding Presents latest LP.
Somewhat expectedly, El Rey sees frontman David Gedge reprising a career-long role reminiscent of Val Kilmers disguise-swapping virtuoso performance in his 1997 film The Saint. (An unexpected but totally clever reference thats not that big a stretch, trust me.) Over the better part of two decades, the Weddoes have shifted from low-budget 80s Euro-indie rock (1987s George Best) to spiny, one-word-song-title jabs (1991s Seamonsters) to gritty punk underscores (1996s Saturnalia), all the while being driven (done in?) by their candy-filled indie-pop heartache center. Similar, really, to how Kilmer switches in and out of disguise in The Saint like some super-spy badass, insisting that hes chasing his big payday while actually chasing something infinitely more important: himself. (See, totally clever.)
As emotionally tangential and sardonic as the rest of their discography, El Rey manages to skillfully dance in and around standard Wedding Present content: love and heartache. Guided by Gedges usual bumbling witI could fall in love with you/And if I recall, she said, I like you too and solidified by finally having a mostly established band, this record is less impressive than their pre-90s work, but better than anything since 1994, and generally a welcome addition to their already established résumé. Plus, if nothing else, theyre from London, which means everything they say sounds at least twice as smart as when you say it.