No matter how fraught or heartbroken these stories get, each is gifted with an indelible chorus, and even the few tracks of sort-of filler like 'Soup' are performed with enough verve and energy that El Rey zips by.
El Rey has its share of surprises, mostly in the vein of its particular subject, which is the cruelty older men visit on younger women, and vice versa. But mostly it's merely another Wedding Present record: witty, randy, guitar-heavy, and not quite satisfied.
If you've been sticking by the group for long, you'll be rewarded by El Rey's brutal honesty, hard-won wisdom, and first-rate songcraft, and you'll relish the sound of a band trying to recapture a brilliant sound from their past and succeeding completely.
Solidified by finally having a mostly established band, this record is less impressive than their pre-’90s work, but better than anything since 1994, and generally a welcome addition to their already established résumé.
It’s a mere change of scenery, then, that separates this from much of the Wedding Present’s canonical work; the scabrous schoolboy humor of their 1987 debut, "George Best," has become the scabrous, middle-aged cynicism of El Rey.