“Going, Going . . . ”
THE GRADE A-
BOTTOM LINE Concise rock and roll from a veteran U.K. band (but skip the first five tracks)
Fans of 31-year-old British indie-rock band Wedding Present are accustomed to singer David Gedge’s attempts to challenge his audience — lest we forget, the group followed up its debut album with an unexpected compilation of Ukrainian folk songs.
But even die-hards might want to skip the first four or five songs on “Going, Going . . . ” (Scopitones), the band’s first album in four years. The tracks are mostly ambient noise, scores for boring videos and directional chants (“west, 72 degrees, 5 minutes,” et al). By “Bear,” a Teenage Fanclub-like gem with big guitars, beautiful harmonies by Gedge and Katharine Wallinger and nice lines like “the thing I miss the most is / the thing I didn’t notice / which is that you’re my best friend,” the album’s formidable pop power truly kicks in. After that, it rarely loses momentum, particularly on the stomping “Kill Devil Hills,” the super-tight “Bells,” the urgent “Fordland,” the slow-building “Emporia” and “Fifty-six,” which locks into a groove so addictive that the band finally just lets it roll.