Here we are, a third of the way through the year, and The Wave Pictures are emerging as the dullest band we’ve encountered so far. In fact, Instant Coffee Baby is about as dull as a you’d expect an album to be when it’s made by a bunch of blokes who think Friday Night In Loughborough is a suitable subject for jangly indie pop. That’s still true even if though they at least have the excuse of coming from Loughborough.
In fact, it’s hard not to hope that The Wave Pictures are wonderfully post-ironic, in a Smiths-influenced-by-Black Box Recorder way. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Unfortunately they’re not; they’re more like geography teachers trying to do indie-by-numbers. They have some interesting tricks, and they seem to be able to put them together in the right order, but the result is disappointingly soul-less.
While track like I Love You Like A Madman takes some attributes from quirky English indie such as The Smiths, this is more in the way a provincial covers band would. The title track comes and goes without grabbing your attention, and while there are some interesting late era Traffic-esque folky swirls on some tracks, particularly Red Wine Teeth, such moments of hope always serve to drag the influence down to the level of everything else on the album rather than rise above it.
All of this is a great pity, as David Tattersall’s vocal style is appealing, and there’s something underneath the overwhelming blandness that does keep prodding you with a suggestion that it’s not as bad as you thought it was five seconds ago (I Remembered is especially guilty of this), but it’s virtually impossible to identify exactly what or why. There are parallels with all the bands they claim as an influence – Suede, Jonathan Richman, Pulp, The Smiths – but when held up against such luminaries of the scene they fall far short.
The songs almost come across as a creative product from that type of kid who knows what clothes to wear and what to say but who you know, all the same, isn’t quite as cool as he wants to be – they’re just following the herd and saying the right things in the wrong way. They’re like a modern day Menswear or The Weekenders – Britpop bands who jumped on the bandwagon but weren’t quite up to the job and in any case, they’re twenty years too late. It’s a damning insult that will probably make them sound more interesting than they are, but The Wave Pictures come cross like a particularly dull, second-rate version of The Enemy, and God help us, do we really need that?