Cinerama is the brainchild of the ever-prolific David Gedge, former main man of the Wedding Present. Gedge has always had a strange position among the Britpop set over in the UK — a small devoted following but, among the masses, the attitude that he’s merely a sub-Morrissey or Robert Smith. Perhaps that’s because there’s a distinctly provincial charm to Gedge’s songwriting; simple, acutely (sometimes painfully) self-aware lyrics, with the constant subject of boy falls in love with girl but girl does not love boy. It’s as though he has mined one bad experience for hundreds and hundreds of songs.
Sonically, however, the Wedding Present exhausted the indie-rock guitar sound it had so utterly perfected throughout the years, so in comes Cinerama. Same subject matter — although boy now sometimes gets girl, thanks to band-member and girlfriend Sally Murrell — but with a lighter, jazzy, classical, Burt Bacharach sort of feel. It could have been a recipe for disaster but, to Gedge’s credit, 1998’s Va Va Voom was a breezy, wonderful outing. Disco Volante is the follow-up and unfortunately loses a bit of the steam. Starting out with the cool sounds of bongos and deft Ennio Morricone-esque guitars on “146 Degrees,” the record just never seems to consistently come through.
The cringe factor of Gedge’s lyrics is particularly high on Disco Volante, with lines such as: “That sounds like a job for Superman/Not the lazy slob that you think I am.” But those half-assed lines have a weird way of creeping up on you, because Gedge’s true talent lies in melody and hooks, disguising his lyrics’ lack of complexity. The album’s highlights — “Your Charms” and “Wow” — are catchy pop tunes, sometimes reminiscent of another Britpop band, Pulp, but Disco Volante needs a bit more Volante to go along with the Disco. Not to worry though. With Gedge’s rate of output, another album will be on the way quite soon.
Cinerama appears Thursday, Oct. 26 w/Damon & Naomi and Rainer Maria at the Magic Stick (4120 Woodward, Detroit — call 313-833-9700).