The Wedding

No Direction

Written by: TL on 20/03/2013 22:08:06

The Wedding are an Arkansas quintet whom I've managed to stay unaware of, despite them having had considerably success in Christian rock circles, with their two first albums "The Wedding" and "Polarity". It could be because it's been five years between "Polarity" and last year's follow-up "No Direction", during which original lead singer Kevin Keihn left the band (after getting married, funny huh?) and was since replaced with Matt Shelton. Judging from "No Direction", the band sounds a good deal like your typical Classic Crime- or House Of Heroes-ish modern Christian rock band, caught in a back and forth between the crunchy and powerful and the soft and touchy-feely.

It's a bit like imagining a cross between Conditions, The Dangerous Summer and He Is Legend. Half the songs, like for instance "No Direction" and "Hang On Love", are bright, melodic, poppy and mostly encouraging and/or romantic. The other half, like "In The End", "The Lesser Worth" or "Kill Any Excuse" are gravelly, groovy, rock'n'roll bangers, fuming with all sorts of energetic righteousness. And frankly the latter kind are the more interesting if you ask me. The hint of heart-on-sleeve sentimentality that stays in the mix even when album highlight "The Lesser Worth" rages on like something from an old Story Of The Year album, affords the band a touch of uniqueness, and this song also delivers my favourite moment of the record when the bridge builds and builds and finally drives the instruments off a cliff while the throat-scraping vocals soar briefly before a crashing finish. Oh and the child's voice going "let me see a circle pit" right at the beginning is a pretty awesome touch too.

"The Lesser Worth" sees the wildness of The Wedding at its most pronounced however, and most of the remaining time, this element feels encapsuled in a format that is a bit too neat and orderly overall. It wouldn't have been a problem if the band had managed to pull off the lighter and more melodic passages with great catchyness or charismatic attitude, but unfortunately, songs like "Hang On Love" are the kind where the drama seems a bit forced, like that familiar feeling you get from bands that write balladry attempting to appeal to a younger audience. In terms of structure and production all the tracks are solid enough, but the necessary touch of class or uniquety isn't there, and it leaves room for the listener to snap out of any casual enjoyment and recognise the stuff as second tier material - the kind which has often enough played filler on albums by the same bands I initally compared The Wedding to.

I think part of the problem is with new man Shelton, who has the necessary power and effects to shine when energy and rancor is what's demanded of him, yet when time comes for things to mellow down and for him to show depth, he showcases an all too familiar and all too typical and American try-hardness. There's little introversion to lend relatability to the softer passages, rather the sort of "feeling-out-loud" approach that has tattered the emo genre's name over the years (see: "Don't Let Me Down"). This will likely be a hurdle to the more mature and/or picky fans, and hinder them from appreciating an album that is otherwise nicely diverse, well-written, well-recorded and well-sequenced. It is a shame, but I think it might at least partway explain why The Wedding - despite their considerable success - still aren't a household name in the rock scene at large.

Download: The Lesser Worth, In The End, The Raconteur
For The Fans Of: House Of Heroes, The Classic Crime, Anberlin
Listen: facebook.com/theweddingrock

Release Date 25.09.2012
Tooth & Nail Records

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