The Wedding Present – Take Me!
tylus Magazine's Seconds column examines those magic moments that arise when listening to a piece of music that strikes that special chord inside. That pounding drum intro; a clanging guitar built-up to an anthemic chorus; that strange glitchy noise you've never quite been able to figure out; that first kiss or heartbreak; a well-turned rhyme that reminds you of something in your own past so much, it seems like it was written for you—all of those little things that make people love music. Every music lover has a collection of these Seconds in his or her head; these are some of ours.
David Gedge may never actually get around to sounding happy, bless him. It doesn't matter what he writes about, as long as he sings it in his choked yell of a voice which so perfectly matches the throttled roar of prime Present. It's the sound of manic depression, and coupled with Gedge's obsession with leaving, being left, infidelity, hurt, and awkwardness it makes the Weddoes' best albums truly dangerous material for the vulnerable.
But their power isn't just restricted to those gloomy moments (Gedge hollering “Yes, I was that naïve!” at the listener in “Blonde” like a flagellant, the sour sardonicism of “William Shatner”). Although you might never guess it if you listened to Seamonsters, they can also do justice to falling in love. For them it's not all sunshine and lollipops so much as the feeling Pulp later memorably summed up with “It doesn't make no sense, no / It's not convenient, no / It doesn't fit my plans, but I got that taste in my mouth again.” As sweet as “A Million Miles” was, it was ultimately about the happily nervous feeling of having no idea where a nascent attraction is going, and “Take Me!” is powered as much by desperation as amour.
It's obvious from the beginning that the situation that Gedge finds himself in isn't the pleasant blush of new romance: “I feel so lonely when I get back from seeing you,” he says, and that only happens when we're afraid every visit might be our last. Gedge wants to be sure, but he doesn't want to ask because he might hear no; the universal human impulse to be sure of affection before we extend it, that constant war between the way we feel and the way we're afraid others might feel. Most of the time we don't dwell on it, just press forward and find out one way or another, but if you want someone to atomize that moment perched precariously between the vertiginous moment of advance and the bottomless abyss of self-doubt, Gedge is your man. He's just too honest to pretend that it feels good: “And when someone brings up your name / I can feel myself begin to change / It's like a panic.”
The song isn't really about the object of Gedge's affection so much as it's about Gedge's affection itself and the way it is when you just know that if they don't feel the same way you'll burst; the slash-and-burn turbojangle of the guitars along with the powerfully galloping rhythm section only multiplies the urgency in the vocals, until the chorus line spews out like “Ohwon'tyouputhatdownandtake! Me! I'm yours!” Gedge hurls it out with something very much like frustration, because if she could just see what to him is obvious everything would be Just Perfect. But you know the guy in the song is never actually uttering those words; they're what run through his head while he sits meekly silent.
All of this, significantly, is accomplished by around the two-and-a-half minute mark. Which would make “Take Me!” a fine but undistinguished Wedding Present song, except that after Gedge's final yelp we get the rest, and “Take Me!” is nine-and-a-half minutes long. The band doesn't do anything different; they just keep going. Which is odder the more you think about (and hear) it. Maybe that lead guitar goes a little faster, there's a refrain, but it's essentially unchanged. At first you wait for Gedge to sing again, then you think it's silly, then it becomes exciting, and at a certain point it almost begins to seem noble. Seven minutes is a long time to just keep going, and what sustains it is the nervous energy and sadly fathomable neuroses of the initial song; it seems fitting that Gedge's pent up lust and affection and confusion would prevent “Take Me!” from winding up any sooner.
It's almost breathtakingly cheeky how easily Gedge and company made “Take Me!” into something epic just by sheer length, as if they'd decided they needed a long song to give the end of Bizarro proper gravitas and discovered that the mere act of playing until they reached and transcended absurdity winds up making it feel that significant. There are other songs of similar tone in the band's catalog, but the sheer exultant perversity of “Take Me!” keeps me coming back. It captures perfectly the way our feelings can seem so big that nothing can contain them and time can't erode them, even if David Gedge would be first to admit we're kidding ourselves.