Picture, if you will, a squinting young man. A light brown sweep of unbrushed hair flops over his right eye; on his lanky, 5’10 frame hangs a checked silk shirt, beneath which can be glimpsed a print bearing the pensive, black and white visages of four dour Mancunians. In his left hand he clutches a banana skin, his name written upon it in a childish script. The fingers of his right hand grasp the neck of an acoustic guitar.
He leans against a gravel-flecked wall, and sighs heavily. Life isn’t always easy for this young man, you see. He has many very important things that occupy his mind – budding relationships; the universal symmetry created by simultaneous haircuts; his dislike of being asked too many questions; runny egg sandwiches; putting worms in the neighbour’s sunbed.
If The Wave Pictures were made flesh, they would be this young man, and If You Leave it Alone would be his diary. Each song on the album is a well-thumbed page; each line a smudged sentence. There is nothing overly-complicated about these songs, but in their simplicity they tell a story; and each one is peppered with snapshots of life as a sensitive, observant, naÃ¯f.
The lilting basslines and softly-tapped drums are the perfect backbeat to the songs: unobtrusive, paced well, having, unexpectedly as much in common with Johnny Cash and his ilk as the vocals have with The Smiths. Harmonies – see -Tiny Craters in the Sand’ – are used carefully for the greatest impact, with saxophone adding a wonderful bit of jazzy melodrama.
The lyrics, meanwhile, are sewn to a felt heart pinned on a sleeve. ‘If I was the kind who was inclined to cry,’ sings frontman David Tattersall plaintively on the title track, ‘I’d cry for the strings I’ve cut loose’. Later, between handclaps, he admits unashamedly: ‘Half this town call me Caroline’ (-Bye Bye Bubble Belly’). His failings are there for us to see, and like his obvious hero Morrissey, he’s happy to own them: ‘This is mine, it isn’t anybody else’s now’ (-Strawberry Cables’).
Like the aforementioned young man, The Wave Pictures are not perfect – but they are themselves, and we have to love them because of, not in spite of, their awkward, bumbling moments. And just like this chap who peers from beneath his floppy fringe, it may have taken some time, but people are finally beginning to appreciate what greatness they are capable of.