If Valentina sounds terribly familiar, don’t worry—it’s supposed to. David Gedge, known best for his work with the Leeds, UK-based indie rockers the Wedding Present, is also responsible for the Cinerama project, where he explores more traditional pop songwriting. Thus, it’s no coincidence that the latter project is now releasing an album called Valentina, when the former did the same in 2012.
With the new Valentina, Gedge takes the Wedding Present’s original LP and re-interprets it through the lens of the Cinerama sonic—and the results are astonishing. Heavy on swanky jazz orchestrations, smooth pop vocals, and Brian Wilson-esque arrangements, Cinerama’s Valentina is a lush pop confection. The electric guitars of the Wedding Present have been traded in for liberally used string sections, Vegas lounge pianos, and an overall air of sophistication that’s infectiously fun. This Valentina may have its roots in a previous recording, but it stands on its own as a fine orchestral pop album that hearkens back to the ‘60s without getting drunk on its own nostalgia.
Gedge tells PopMatters, “Having two completely different groups at your disposal is quite rare. It’s a privileged situation for me to be in, and I thought I should use that in some way. So I had the idea of recording the same set of songs twice, once as the Wedding Present and once as Cinerama—just to see what would happen, really. I’ve never been an ‘album, tour, album, tour’ type of artist, and this is just another in a series of unusual things we’ve attempted over the years: the Hit Parade 7” single series, our foray into Ukrainian folk music, my singing with the BBC Big Band, and even the Wedding Present comic book!”
Valentina is out on 18 May through Scopitones.
For contrast, compare Cinerama’s take on “You Jane” (track two in the player above) to Wedding Present’s original version below: