The best thing about David Gedge has always been that he doesn’t pretend. He can bruise or be bruised; he can project or introspect with equal perspicacity; and it often seems like there’s nothing he loathes more than his own self-loathing. He lays it all bare. He’s 56 and has helmed the U.K.-bred indie-rockers the Wedding Present for three decades, through many a lineup change, through 18 Top 40 singles in the U.K., through the side project Cinerama and through his substantial time spent as a resident of the sunny West Coast of California. “Going, Going …” (out Friday in the U.S.) is the Wedding Present’s ninth album and first double-LP, a formidable collection of 20 songs inspired by a drive across the United States as conceived by a guy with a lot of gas left in his tank.
It’s a trip with plenty for longtime fans of the Weddoes’ bristling noise and prickly narration, even if the narrative doesn’t get started until “Two Bridges,” the album’s fifth track, which follows a quartet of mood-shifting instrumentals. The album, produced by Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Adele), sees Gedge arm-wrestling his doubts and demons with a typically firm grip. In “Fordland,” he allows: “I’m crossing time zones like it’s going out of style / Pretending that I know / Exactly what I’m doing with my life, meanwhile / I’m terrified of tomorrow.” That song is one of a stretch of six in the middle of the album named for specks on the map in the midsection of the United States — “Fifty-Six” (Ark.), “Fordland” (Mo.), “Emporia” (Kan.), “Broken Bow” (Neb.), “Lead” (S.D.) and “Ten Sleep” (Wyo.). It’s not hard to imagine Gedge gazing at the photos and video footage from those places to find source material for the songs. The journey ends, as many Western migrations have, in “Santa Monica,” with a sense of renewal, not to mention epic swells of guitar.
||| Stream: Seven selections from “Going, Going …”
||| Live: The Wedding Present perform April 29 at the Echo. Tickets.
||| Also: Stream the whole album via Spotify