It’s easy to take for granted the kinds of blurty, careening indie tunes David Gedge has been spewing for the last three decades. As leader of The Wedding Present, he’s rolled brittle C86 pop into meatier alt-rock, turning his band from sloppy Smiths to British cousins of Archers Of Loaf to some kind of dependable hybrid of those two things. The group’s 10th studio album is a coast-to-coast U.S. travelogue comprising 20 tracks, each with its own video. That’s the idea behind this PledgeMusic-funded project, but really, the concept is the same as it’s always been: reasonably clever bloke with electric guitar tries to make sense of love.
Take away the first four instrumental tracks—mood pieces that use strings, piano, and pensive electric guitars to set a somber New England scene—and Going, Going… is a fairly typical Weddoes LP. On song five, “Two Bridges,” the foursome punches in with a big, woolly rocker featuring a quintessentially Gedgian line: “I did love you, and maybe I still do, but there’s no way of knowing.” He spends the next 15 tracks (and 3,000 miles) challenging that assertion.
Quieter moments, like the rangy jangler “Little Silver” and twinkling first half of “Emporia,” highlight Gedge’s overlooked delicacy as a singer. With its honeyed backing vocals from bassist Katharine Wallinger and pockets of heavy distortion, “Bear” is a twee take on “blue album” Weezer. “Secretary” sees the return of the rubber-wristed strumming and befuddled humor heard on the band’s 1987 debut, George Best. If Gedge has trouble reaching his lady on that one, he does a better job of connecting on “Kill Devil Hills,” an organ-fueled punk tear through North Carolina.
On “Fordland,” one of several songs with strings reminiscent of Gedge’s Cinerama side project, the narrator laments, “Now I don’t know where this is gonna end.” The journey naturally concludes in California—the Pixies-style quiet-loud switcheroo “Santa Monica” finds Gedge basking in the warmth of his lover’s smile, letting the music slide into a slowed-down indie-band approximation of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” crescendo. Gedge could’ve reached this happy ending with fewer tracks and less gas money, but as anyone signing up for this road trip knows, his rambling never really gets old.