Some people have a problem with guitar solos. Consequently, some people have a problem with The Waves Pictures. The Waves Pictures are a new band that have long, dexterous, un-ironic guitar solos in their songs.
It took me a while to love The Wave Pictures, but the solo were never a problem for me. When I first head David Tattersall I found him a little gauche. He had a confidence about him which made me recoil. His lyrics are bold and awkward, making you wince at their honestly and bravery. David creates a world that exists only in his own mind. The actions, objects and places sound real enough, but are grouped together in a surreal narrative. He is creating his own mythology, a world of bad wine, STDs and marmalade sculptures. And there is another hurdle to overcome when you see The Wave Pictures live. Dave has an old man’s voice and a twenty year old’s face. It immediately conjures up problems of authenticity. The second time I saw The Wave Pictures I felt mistake. The third time I was in love with them. The authenticity of David’s semi-autobiographical lyrics is a cross he is going to have to bear. David is an intriguing guy who writes intriguing words and people are going to want to make them fit together. For the rest of his life people are going to ask him how ‘real’ his songs are, and he is going to have to deal with it.
David is already getting compared to Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker. This is lazy and wrong- the obvious comparisons anyone goes for then they hear a white English songwriter with a university education. David told me that he sees himself as a musician first, and a songwriter second. This places him more in a lineage that includes Ry Cooder, Doctor John, Richard Thompson and Tom Verlaine. The helps explain his lyrics and his guitar solos. His words dress the music, not the other way around. People have stood next to me at Wave Pictures shows and said, ‘These would be perfect three-minute pop songs if it weren’t for the guitar solos.’ This situates the Wave Pictures in a context of British indie bands where they don’t belong. The Wave Pictures like the blues, The Wave Pictures like rock and roll.
David thinks the issue with the guitar solos is a London thing, and he never encountered to d with the legacy of punk. It’s over thirty years since 1977, but a lot of people still see the guitar solo as a signifier of ego and self-indulgence and something that shouldn’t be trusted. With a guitar solo you are spotlighting the most selfish instrument and putting aside any notion of team spirit. You are not interested in breaking down barriers between yourself and the audiences, you are creating them. Guitar solos aren’t punk; they are show business. These days, to celebrate something almost entirely for its accomplishment and skill, as opposed to its cleverness and context, seems rebellious.
Dave has an old man’s voice and a twenty year old’s face. It immediately conjures up problems of authenticity.
David consumes music like a hungry student at an all-you-can-eat buffet. He buys it from Woolworths and Oxfam; his bedroom is strewn with pre-recorded cassettes and scratched vinyl. Dire Straits sit alongside Pavement, Jonathan Richman like on top of Joan Armatrading. He hasn’t got the selective, discriminating ear of a music snob. If it sounds good, it is good. I get jealous of Dave, not because he’s better than me but because I fear he like music more than me. It’s impossible not to bring our prejudices to music, but we should try occasionally- if for no other reason than David likes music without bias, so we should try and receive his music with that spirit.
David is the most naturally gifted musician I have ever seen and he is a phenomenal guitarist. I don’t just mean the best out of my mates, or the best in London at the moment. I mean to say he has the potential to be one of the best guitarists you have ever heard. This isn’t a muso thing, it’s a music thing. His solos aren’t indulgent; they are gene our, musical, emotive, innovative and thrilling. You can’t like The Wave Pictures without liking the guitar solos. They can’t be separated; that isn’t an option.
Darren Hayman is a musician and has toured with The Wave Pictures.
The Wave Pictures’ second album Instant Coffee Baby, is released on 21 April 2008 on Moshi Moshi Records.