Most music fans will confess to an album they clung to during those dark nights of the adolescent soul. Now an MP has revealed the heartbreak and painful rejections of her teenage years after seizing the chance to write new sleeve-notes for her own essential album.
Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, is a devoted fan of The Wedding Present, the Leeds indie guitar band whose songs of unrequited love led critics to hail them as natural successors to The Smiths in the late 80s.
Ms Creasy reserves a special place in her heart for Seamonsters, the band’s 1991 album, an unflinching collection of songs detailing the bitterness and recrimination of relationships gone wrong, set to a backdrop of grunge-era distorted guitars.
In what appears to have been a cathartic experience, Ms Creasy, a rising Labour star, has written an extended essay to accompany a vinyl 10” edition of the classic album, released next Monday.
“There is no more central rite of passage than learning to live with the disappointment of love unrequited,” writes the shadow crime prevention minister, whose sleeve-notes relive, with vivid honesty, the “burning confusion of rejection”, “the horror of being abandoned unexpectedly” and “the way in which heartache eats you up inside” during her formative years.
Recalling the fickle boys who cruelly “stamped on my heart”, one song in particular is etched on the self-confessed “awkward teenager”’s memory. “To this day I cannot hear the following line from ‘Blonde’ without thinking of the boy who I fell for on a dancefloor many years ago, only to discover myself to be one of many taken in by his charms:
‘I’m just some name in your book / That’s why you gave up writing weeks ago / You won’t be getting in touch / Oh, do you ever?’ It is still painful because it is the perfect expression of how you feel when you find yourself discarded by someone you trusted.”
“I wish I had been able to walk up to those who had spurned me and quote verbatim to them some of these lyrics.”
However the MP, who has won acclaim for her campaign to crack down on legal loan-sharks, has a positive message for adolescents suffering similar pains. “I wish I could tell them that it does get better.”
The MP will watch The Wedding Present play the album in full at Koko in north London on Friday. David Gedge, the Wedding Present singer and songwriter, told The Independent: “It’s very flattering. I began a conversation with Stella on Twitter and then I thought, ‘why not ask a member of Parliament to write the sleeve notes?’ To my delight she said ‘Yes’.”
Mr Gedge said he found Ms Creasy’s essay on the album “quite poignant. I didn’t know what to expect. What she wrote was touching. Perhaps she was able to settle a few old scores too!”
The singer joked: “I haven’t been invited to the Commons yet. Maybe I’ll get to Downing Street when Stella is Prime Minister.”
The Seamonsters album, recorded in Minnesota with Nirvana producer Steve Albini, is regarded as the band’s best. “It feels like a film or a drama when we are performing it,” said Mr Gedge. “It is intense and the narrative just unfolds. There’s certainly an all-encompassing mood when we play it live.”
Formed in 1985, The Wedding Present were championed by John Peel and even became Top of the Pops regulars, recording 12 top 30 singles inside one year in 1990. Gedge, 52, is the only ever-present member, driving the band on through numerous line-up changes.
Ms Creasy is not the first Labour MP to write sleeve-notes for a favourite album. Former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham declared The Stone Roses 1989 debut “the best album ever” when he penned an essay to accompany the record’s 20th anniversary re-release in 2009.