The Wave Pictures – Instant Coffee Baby

The Wave Pictures
Instant Coffee Baby

They’re a bit of a one-off, the Wave Pictures. So many of their contemporaries settle for purely acoustic ballads or slide into electronic mayhem. Not a route favoured by either Dave Tattersall, Franic Roysicz, or Johnny Helm. There’s a reassuring sense of lo-fi traditionalism hovering over the 13 tracks on Instant Coffee Baby, traditionalism of a kind that suggests they would’ve quite happily recorded on a 38 track but could only scrape enough together for a ropey old 4 track tape deck, and are making a bit more noise than actually planned for, as compensation of a sort. There’s plenty of old school indie ethos at work back in the Wave Pictures garage, and no mistake. But if this suggests that Instant Coffee Baby sounds like an unfinished demo of a more expansive, even orchestral piece of work, then that is very wrong of this reviewer. It does possess a jaunty “live in the studio” feel, even the energies of on-the-spot improvisation during some moments. You might find yourself checking your back garden for impromptu buskers, such is the immediacy and clarity of The Wave Pictures’ recorded sound.

Not quite enough bands play acoustic instruments as if they are electric ones, and that is the first part of what makes The Wave Pictures slightly more of a proposition than their b/w photocopied publicity and vaguely surreal posters suggest. The frenetic guitar solo that closes album opener “Leave The Scene Behind” suggests an altogether grittier creature than often inhabits the organic world of the ukelele and beehive set, and the rhythms of songs such as “I Love You Like A Madman” and “We Come Alive” are sinuous recreations of the salsa inflected ballads of the late 50s and early 60s; add to these some quite blatantly self consciously overwritten lyrics which demand, nay, positively hijack your attentions and which I’d suggest you access the bands Myspace to sample, as attempting to quote any of them here somehow wouldn’t quite capture the atmospheric veracity of the Wave Picture’s tales of chaotic days at showgrounds, lively evening barbecues, parenting skills, awkward encounters with former schoolmates and one or two moments of such obscurity that I wonder if even the Wave Pictures could quite translate them into manageable chunks of meaningful wordage. Elvis Costello, in his horn-rimmed late 70s persona, is a monosyllabic brute in comparison: Dave Tattersall is quite decidedly making a bid for “top lyricist ever from Yorkshire” where he has a bit of serious competition from such luminaries as Jarvis Cocker and The Wedding Present’s David Gedge.

But that is all part of the wilfully reckless world the Wave Pictures are choosing to share with us, a place where romanticism has evolved into something at once equally quaint and belligerent, where “I feel like a porcupine sleeping on a waterbed /it’s fantastic to feel beautiful again” is a perfectly ordinary sentiment to wish to express, and the guitars tell of countless lost summer evenings, not all of which were actually experienced by those here present.

Instant Coffee Baby is an album destined for almost total obscurity, the Wave Pictures would have it no other way: those of us privileged enough to gain an insight into their highly personalised worlds will quite likely provide the Wave Pictures with the distance their near-overwhelming lack of candour requires; but this is one invite you really ought to accept.