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Wave Pictures - Brushes With Happiness

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 17 / 7 / 2018

Wave Pictures - Brushes With Happiness
Label: Moshi Moshi
Format: CD


The ever-reliable Wave Pictures are back with the first of two albums planned for release in 2018. This was recorded in a single all-night session and is none-the-worse for that.

2017 was something of a remarkable year for the Wave Pictures – they didn’t release a new album (their only new material came in the form of a 10” vinyl EP of Wilko Johnson covers). Fans weren’t exactly staved of new material, as we did get an album from their new ‘surf guitar’ side project, the Surfing Magazines. But still, for a band that has generally released at least one new album a year alongside multiple side projects, collaborations and solo albums, it was a remarkably quiet year. Was modern life finally catching up with the band, you wondered?. It turns out not. 2018 arrived with an announcement that the band would be releasing two albums this year – the fallow 2017 clearly an outlier. The first of these arrives this month, to coincide with a European tour. The second will appear later in the year, to coincide with one of the band’s largest ever London dates. ‘Brushes With Happiness’ has a big, bright, childish painting of a lion on its cover – but the cover art and title are both wholly deceptive. In fact, they named the record in tribute to Johnny ‘Huddersfield’ Helm’s fondness for playing with drum brushes – though the lyrics fit the title, reflecting David Tattersall’s interest in surreal and random imagery with a series of keenly observed snapshots. Tattersall has always been an eccentric lyricist, but in recent years his focus does seem to have shifted to documenting passing places, fleeting moments and brief encounters. Those lyrics, scattergun as they may be, were the only part of this album prepared in advance of the band going into the studio. The rest was all improvised on the night, as the band cut nine tracks over the course of a single evening. This is their attempt at the fabled one-take masterpiece, a la 'Astral Weeks' and 'Tonight’s the Night'. Having toured intensively over the past decade, and developed an intuitive and improvisational live show, this record is a showcase of how in-tune the three members of the Wave Pictures are with one another – even if, as they freely admit, they were getting more and more drunk the longer the session went on. Fans of the band will recognise many of their favourite musical tropes – the bluesy shuffle of ‘Jim’ would have slotted nicely onto their 2014 collaboration with Billy Childish, while other tracks bring back memories of the long, slow songs on 2011’s ‘Beer in the Breakers’. There are also some new sounds – there are shades of jazz among the blues riff and, most unexpected, wild bursts of strings that could easily have come straight from a late-90's post-rock album (think Godspeed You Black Emperor). What’s changed most is the mood, with the album’s tone and atmosphere consistent throughout – a direct contrast to their last album, 2016’s 'Bamboo Diner in the Rain', which had been carefully sequenced so each new track stood out from the last. It’s an album to delve into – a single track here or there just won’t have the same effect (Spotify users needn’t bother their frazzled attention spans with this one.) The Wave Pictures continue to thrive – even while their only champion in the mainstream media seems to be the ever-wise Marc Riley. They don’t seem to mind the lack of attention – this is the sound of a band at ease with its place in the world. If you are new to the band, I would still recommend the peerless double album ‘City Forgiveness’ as the best place to start (now five years old, its only got better with time and is an all-time top ten album for this reviewer), but after that, ‘Brushes With Happiness’ should be near the top of your shopping list.

Track Listing:-
1 The Red Suitcase
2 Rise Up
3 Jim
4 Laces
5 The Little Window
6 Crow Jane
7 The Burnt Match
8 Brushes With Happiness
9 Volcano

Band Links:-

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Interview (2008)
Wave Pictures - Interview
Ben Howarth chats to Dave Tattersall, the lead singer with lo-fi London-based indie guitar group, the Wave Pictures, about his band and their latest alabum, 'Instant Coffee Baby'

live reviews

PIcture House Social, Sheffield, 24/6/2018
Wave Pictures - PIcture House Social, Sheffield, 24/6/2018
Helen Tipping watches acclaimed indie act the Wave Pictures work their magic at a show in Sheffield.
Borderline, London, 30/7/2008

digital downloads



Look Inside Your Heart (2018)
Upbeat second album this year from acclaimed Lonodon-based indie pop outfit the Wave Pictures
Bamboo Diner in the Rain (2016)
A Season in Hull (2016)

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