It takes guts to sing a sad song — so the Wave Pictures should be looked at as three lads who have summoned an uncommon courage. Not only do they have more than a few sad songs in their repertoire, but also some of them are among the saddest songs ever written. And there's little doubt the band has taken some ribbing over the years from the lugheads down at the pub.
Take "I Thought of You Again," off the band's 2009 full-length, If You Leave It Alone. From the get-go, it's clear that singer David Tattersall is hurting. Why else write "a thousand verses, each one about doctors and nurses" if he wasn't ailing? But the titles he's written are "on matchsticks," so it's not as if he's singing this from the rooftops. No, this pain is personal, and he's alone with it. But Tattersall is willing to own the pain — and that's where that courage comes in.
Granted Tattersall sings in almost a whisper, but there's really no other way to share these kinds of feelings. It's the type of voice heard between lovers holding hands in the dark; it's the type of sentiment written in love letters that remain unsent. And by the time the singer admits he "thought of [her] again," you don't simply sense how deeply he pines for this certain someone — you feel it, down to the marrow of your soul.
It's obviously a touching song, made all the more touching by Tattersall's forlorn guitar line and bassist Franic Rozycki and drummer Jonny Helm's simple shuffle. But this is not the "woe, baby, baby" of pablum pop; this is a song sung and written with the same kind of smarts as a Morrissey or a Costello.
Maybe it's something in the water in merry ol' Blighty that causes men to step up to microphones and unabashedly admit they've loved and lost and are ready to do it again. Or perhaps all of that British reticence can be countered only with a pop song. Whatever it is, when it comes along rightly and brightly, it's spectacular. These are songs for new modern lovers, and when the Wave Pictures take the stage this Friday at the Vagabond, you can be one too.