Art and Music      


Long Black Cars
RHIANNON PARKINSON:  In many ways, this album – The Wave Pictures’ umpteenth (and fifth for Moshi Moshi) – is more of the same from London’s hardest working indie band. Recorded over four days in New York City, Long Black Cars finds David Tattersall’s vocal melodies on fire, with Franic Rozycki’s bass and Johnny Helm’s drums vigorously supporting his signature frenetic guitar flights. Tattersall also maintains his talent for delivering complete, highly emotive imagery with the sparsest lyrical language: whole philosophies and full relationships somehow packed into a single line.

Near constant touring has meant the trio have grown more consistent, confident and honed with each successive record. While there are some obvious crowd-pleasers in their now extensive repertoire, they have yet to have the ‘hit’ with which to define or limit their sound – so there is still room for development. Their progression is hinted at on ‘Give Me a Second Chance’; a great ‘rock’ showcase for harsh guitar solos, thundering drums and indignant vocals, sung by Jonny Helm giving the lie to any erroneous notion of the band as fey indie types.
Helm’s occasional (on stage) lead vocal cameos are always a highlight, so it’s good to see live favourite ‘Eskimo Kiss’, also finally getting cut to vinyl. Arguably the strongest track on the LP, the chorus of Eskimo Kiss showcases Tattersall’s talents as a lyricist, with an unforced combination of rhyme and alliteration. For all that, the Earworm of the Album award goes to the ultra-hummable ‘Spaghetti’, an ode to the oddly romantic perception: “Wild hair tumbling from the centre of your skull like spaghetti/I knew then that you’d never forget me.”

Elsewhere, ‘Seagulls’ offers a break from the soft side of the Wave Pictures, instead telling the bitter tale of a lost connection with a close friend who has recently joined the police force. Unusual but oddly beautiful lyrics are highlighted further by the sparse, precise guitar – holding its breath before the beat kicks in. Tattersall is almost rapping here, constantly playing with the rhyme scheme, and letting the band build up behind him, barely pausing for breath. Behind the calmness comes a marching chorus, more than a little reminiscent of the Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’, but perhaps with more tension in the verses and less release in the chorus.

The final (title) track keeps the energy going right up to the wire, complete with false ending to keep the listener’s attention until the last moments. The track typifies the album as a whole, demonstrating both a growth and consistency in The Wave Pictures’ approach to recorded music and their reliability as entertainers. While there is no radical change of course for the band, this is certainly a strong album with enough song highlights to keep their live shows as upbeat as ever.

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