I knew nothing about The Wake before I started listening to this album and writing a review – I’d taken the punt on them based on a friend’s recommendation. A quick search on Wikipedia found that they were a Scottish post-punk band from the 1980s, adored by New Order and mainly ignored by everyone else. Here Comes Everybody, their second album, was generally considered their apex, and they disbanded a decade later after jumping labels and recording a few more albums, moving towards an indie pop sound. (However, their bassist was briefly Bobby Gillespie, better known for his work in the Jesus and Mary Chain and then Primal Scream.)
So, I plugged into the Spotify reissue of Here Comes Everybody, collated with several singles issued at the same time (although I confess I didn’t listen to them, deciding to just stick to the album itself). The first track, ‘O Pamela’, offered a sound that I wasn’t expecting, and one that essentially defines this album: a spacey keyboard drone, filling the air with ambient chords while the rest of the band performs underneath it. That opening song makes its way through six minutes, Gerard McInulty offering up some tropey post-punk singing – light, British, and vaguely depressed.
‘Send Them Away’ is built on a fun bassline, but ‘Sail Through’ is where the album starts to hit its mark, and it’s one of my favourite tracks. The keyboards roll about with a fun-sounding line that changes a lot faster than the previous tracks, the rhythm section has a great time keeping the funkish beat going, and McInulty shows off his vocals with some delightful ‘ooooooh-ooh-ooh’-ing in the chorus.
The closer to Side A, ‘Melancholy Man’ doesn’t have a sound to match the title, with the bright keyboard tones continuing to run their way through. The lyrics are much closer to that sensation, though, even if they don’t specifically stick in my mind. (This is one of the problems I find with trying to review albums by bands I’ve never heard before – my first listen is essentially just taking it all in, and I’ll often resort to describing everything in similar ways. Hopefully once this blog keeps going I’ll be better at this.)
‘World of Her Own’ has an entertaining instrumental break repeating through the song, with heavy drums combining with some harmonica(!) to keep up the mood. ‘Torn Calendar’ actually sounds like muzak at times, albiet muzak with slow, echoey guitar and dreamy vocals. This isn’t that far away from shoegaze, and The Wake could probably have done that well if they were invested enough.
The penultimate song, ‘All I Asked You to Do’, is a late-stage highlight, making the most of some female backing vocals. But by the time I reached the final song and title track, I was ultimately tired of this album and ready for it to change.
As it turns, that title track feels like it might be a change with the intro, jittery guitar fading in directly from the last song. But the keyboards rush in and the guitar stops, and we’re back to some more of the same. And that’s my biggest problem with this album, and why I won’t be coming back to it (sorry to the friend who recommended me): it all seemed stuck in a similar area, and it’s one I started to tire of after a while. There’s plenty of people who would love this album, but I’m not one of them.