Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Even more than with most indie guitar bands, the songs David Gedge writes for The Wedding Present depend on their lyrics for their punch. His guitar hooks are reliable enough on El Rey, the seventh all-new studio Wedding Present album (compilations and live discs abound), and Steve Albini engineers them vividly enough, but it's the words that fail him. For every piquant moment like "Model, Actress, Whatever," there's a clunker like "I thought women were supposed to tell you how they're feeling / But you're really the most unrevealing" ("Palisades"). If anything, Gedge is too revealing. Most of El Rey's songs take place in West Hollywood, which he calls home, just as 2005's Take Fountain was more or less a Seattle album. And throughout both albums, he's artless-verging-on-shticky, as on titles like "The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend." No wonder he keeps getting dumped.


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