It’s Indie fortnight on our musical adventure. As well as The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead, I thought I would also review one of my favourite albums of the genre: The Wedding Presents’ 1989 Bizarro. I first discovered the band as they were playing in Brighton during a weekend away and I decided to check them out. I am glad I did, because the gig – a 20 year anniversary of Bizarro – was fantastic. I bought the CD from one of the many trendy record shops in the seaside town and the album hasn’t left my iPod since.
Brassneck instantly grabs your attention with its racing guitars and bitter, aggressive style, perfectly setting the tone for the record. Angry and hurt, yet dry and witty, David Gedge has a gift for break-up lyrics that brilliantly portray the mix of emotions involved: “You grew up quicker than me. I kept so many old things. And never quite stopped hoping”. Bordering on cliché, they have a real authenticity about them: they’re lines you’ve used, or even worse, have had said to you!
“I just wondered if it could be like before.”
“But then that’s typically you.”
“First time you came over, do you remember you saying that you’d stay for good? No I didn’t think you would.”
“But it was different then, and that’s all in the past.”
The songs tend to be straight-forward in your face guitar based rockers, with predictable but enjoyable changes of pace, pauses, verses and choruses and a more-melodic-than-punk style. The guitar is excellent throughout, with that jangly indie sound that developed in the 1980’s, supported by driving chords, a great deep bass and solid drumming. The occasional long solos that play out songs are wonderful, the highlight being on Kennedy, which returns with the anthemic line “I take it all back; I never said that.” (which works brilliantly live as the crowd join in), and the lengthy outtros of Take Me! and Bewitched.
“And there’s a thousand things I wish I’d said and done, But the moment’s gone.”
Gedge’s delivery is harsh and bitter, and this tone suits the themes of the record well. As well as with the pain of being dumped, he explores the difficulties of arguing with an over-accusing girlfriend in What Have I Said Now?, the betrayal of being cheated on in No, and the suffering of hearing she’s moved on in Thanks. Kennedy is a little different, centring around the unusual line “Have you lost your love of life? Too much apple pie.”, although I expect this is a metaphor I haven’t understood.
“And if it didn’t mean a thing
And you’ve told him to go
And if you’re as sorry as you say
Why didn’t you just say no?”
Although I was a little older when I discovered it, I imagine it to be a great teenage record, with its punchy, punky playing and it’s painful, jealous lyrics. Bizarro clearly found a place in the hearts of the hundreds of boistrous, now middle-aged blokes who attended the anniversary tour with me in Brighton, who 20 years on still knew every word.