There’s prolific, and then there’s so prolific you begin to suspect that the people involved might have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Both Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures fall into the latter category, with former Herman Düne man Brinks prone to releasing new albums like a forgetful elderly relative finding tissues in the pockets of an old jacket, while The Wave Pictures deliver in the style of a ruthlessly efficient striker getting a run-out in the cup against lower league opposition. It’s only a few months since they released a hefty double LP, they’ve recently done a couple of tribute albums and now here’s a collaboration with Brinks, the third time (at least) these two entities have come together.
Knowing that Gin was recorded live in the studio, without overdubs or any such technical gubbins, and you might be ready and waiting with the word ‘slapdash’ already primed on your lips. However, you’d be daft to do so.
Gin might have a couple of moments that are rough around the edges – David Tattersall’s now compulsory fret-fragging might not hit all the notes in exactly the right order, and Stanley’s scronking sax can occasionally veer over into the wrong side of tuneless, but as a whole it’s still an interesting and occasionally excellent collection.
If you’re already familiar with either of the acts, you’ll know what to expect. Stanley Brinks – once of Herman Düne, now a sort of wandering indie-folk minstrel – sings observant lyrics in his curious Anglo-French accent. He also occasional plays some saxophone on top of it all. The Wave Pictures – in their modern incarnation – stretch and pull at the conventions of the traditional indie three-piece thanks to some extended wig-outs. For a decent wedge of this LP, that’s exactly what you get, and truth be told it’s all decent stuff. ‘Parking Lots’ is probably the most typical example of this – it’s got a chorus that will dig into your brain, and both Brinks and Tattersall chuck in a solo for good measure before it all clatters to a stop. Similarly ‘I Wanted You’ or ‘Max In The Elevator’ offer a straightforward answer to the question of what SB + TWP might sound like.
However, there are some other ideas thrown into the mix here. ‘No Goodbyes’ aims for something a bit more epic and expansive, a constantly building bass-line crashing into a full on wig-out finale. ‘Spinola Bay’ is a curious beast, crossing spoken-word verses describing a variety of unusual characters with a rousing singalong chorus, all tied together by a calypso beat. Somehow, it all works. ‘Time For Me’ and ‘Blues About Krishna’s Latest Avatar’ meanwhile offer something a bit darker and slightly sinister, stretched out by simple, hypnotic bass-lines and creeping into all sorts of different directions.
All told, Gin rises above the swiftness of its creation, thanks to these few detours that Brinks and The Wave Pictures take around their usual territory. The fact that the catchiest track from this session – the single ‘Orange Juice’ – is not included just underlines that these guys seem to seamlessly slot together when they hit the studio. Sooner or later they might need to slow that production line a little, but for now they still seem to be coming up with the goods.
7Aaron Lavery's Score