The Wave Pictures are a something of an oddity in today’s music scene. There’s no quirky history, no pretentious affectations, no art school stylings, no kooky frontman they just play beautiful indie pop, laced with witty, storybook lyrics that marry the complexities of subjects like love and ambition with the simplicities of marmalade and black platform shoes. Better still, they have been ploughing their own furrow for quite some time, quietly and impressively, recording and releasing a string of albums. Indeed, it seems unfathomable that they have not burst into the collective conscious.
Playing their biggest headline show yet, the ICA was the perfect stage for The Wave Pictures’ humble and warm pop joy. Support-wise, the much-hyped An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump had cancelled, meaning that we had to make do with the toilet Planet Earth. Ticking all the nu-folk boxes - girl back-up singer, maraca egg, unnecessary trumpet, limp-wristed meandering lyrics about chocolate bars and dungarees - the band are basically a sub-Jeffrey Lewis quirk-fest with not one ounce of invention, humour or incisive lyricism. You can blame The Moldy Peaches for making every mumbling nobody think that writing about losing your house keys over two chords is a relevant musical statement.
But shite support acts are standard, and it couldn’t take the shine off another triumphant set from the Pics. On stage for an hour and a half, they played plenty of new songs from their new album “If you leave it alone” and featured much of the usual onstage banter and guitar shredding. Drummer Jonny Helm got behind the mic for “Now you are pregnant” to much audience approval, but the highlight was “In your own sweet time”. Singer Dave Tattersall explained the song was written as a duet between him and a beautiful woman, but as they couldn't afford to take a beautiful woman on tour, the other band members had to step in. Beautiful female band members or no, the Wave Pictures are still music to your ears in a musical blandscape where emulating your superiors is considered more important than coming up with your own ideas. We’ll take marmalade over dungarees any time.
Words by Adam Richmond and Matt McLean. Image from sprungli's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.