Va Va Voom

Jan 13, 1999 at 12:00 am

Va Va Voom unveils Cinerama, a very un-Wedding Present-like sound from head Present-er, David Gedge. In fact, the two groups share only Gedge's vocals and undeniable knack for writing pure, low-key pop songs -- this time in the tradition of mid-1960s UK bands, but with a glorious Phil Spector or Burt Bacharach sensibility. The group is a collaborative effort comprised of members of the Delgados, the Church, Pusha and Animals That Swim. While Cinerama may simply be a side project -- what a project!

From "Maniac," which sets the tone with an answering machine sample of a girl still trying to convince him it's over, to the wry vignette that is "Au Pair" -- the second of two bonus tracks and a modernized version of the Rolling Stones' "As Tears Go By" -- Cinerama successfully captures the absurd thrill of being happy-sad, flying a kite on that summer day when you just learned, the hard way, that relationships are little more than a comedy of errors. There are beautiful string and wind instrument flourishes in every song. Listen to the flute tripping along at the end of "Honey Rider" or the skipping and sweeping trumpet and strings in "You Turn Me On." "Barefoot in the Park"'s orchestral feel is perfectly matched by Gedge's vocal lifts, vocals which exude a carefree, "Art Lover" flair that Pulp's Jarvis Cocker strives for but only Ray Davies can actually pull off.

Thoughtfully and carefully produced by a seemingly softened Gedge, Cinerama's Va Va Voom beats all of this year's best English pop outings (Belle & Sebastian, the Delgados and Mojave 3) at their own game.