You only need to cast your mind back two weeks to when The Wave Pictures last appeared on this site, which was around the release of the single, This Heart Of Mine, the first taster of their upcoming album, When The Purple Emperor Spreads His Wings. A double-album due out in May via Moshi Moshi, When The Purple Emperor Spreads His Wings is a record split into four, with each side of the finished vinyl representing a specific writing season. In the build-up to the record’s release, The Wave Pictures will make each season available one at a time, starting with the five tracks that make up Autumn, which the band are premiering here today.
Although linked by a certain seasonality, the tracks on Autumn are still a somewhat eclectic collection. The record opens with Samson, a track not inspired by the long-haired hero of the Israelites, but by Samson Tobacco, a brand of rolling tobacco described by its creator as, “a fragrant fresh mixture”, and once backed by a rather wonderful advert. The Wave Pictures’ take comes across like a stomping psych-garage rocker, as it explores a man experiencing a midlife crisis when he learns of his father’s death.
From there the record rolls into the Neil Young-like country of This Heart Of Mine, and the excellent Douglas, inspired by what vocalist David Tattersall describes as, “the horror of going back-to-school after the joyous nothingness of the summer holidays”. The track has a certain Kinks-like strut, with bombastic choruses hinting at the playground bully, Doug, and the lingering threat of the school yard going full Lord Of The Flies at any moment.
Possibly the record’s biggest departure comes in the romance of the wonderful Jennifer. The track finds drummer Jonny “Huddersfield” Helm taking lead vocals on a song influenced by Zimbabwean groups like The Four Brothers and The Bhundu Boys, with suitably complex rhythms adorned by Franic Rozycki’s magnificent bass, and David’s fret fluttering guitar-line. There’s even room for a harmonica solo and a dream-a-little-dream breakdown before the whole thing wraps up in a perfect three-and-a-half-minute pop song. Autumn concludes on Smell The Ocean, an ocean view of a celebration of shortening nights and the approaching winter, with guitars that roar like crackling beach-front campfires and soaring 60’s super-group harmonies, as David’s lyrics seem to pack up the car and hit the coastal path.
If Autumn sounds this good, roll on Winter, Spring and Summer too, four seasons of The Wave Pictures at the top of their game, When The Purple Emperor Spreads His Wings might just be this most prolific of bands’ most unmissable record yet.