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Music Review

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Artist: TV Priest
Label: Sub Pop
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 05 February 2021

Sub Pop releases Uppers, the debut album from London-based Post-Punk band TV Priest. The four-piece comprises Charlie Drinkwater on vocals, Alex Sprogis on guitar, Nic Bueth on bass and keyboards, and Ed Kelland on drums. The four childhood friends made music together in their teens before drifting apart. They reformed in 2019, playing their first small gig later the same year. Their first single was 'House of York', a very Punk-like examination of the Monarchy. TV Priest strives to embrace the beautiful and terrifying unknowns that exist personally, politically and culturally. The album is available for Download or Streaming...

'The Big Curve' is a shocking introduction to this album, but not in the way you would expect. “This could be the first day of the rest of your life.” Okay, but on and on goes the spoken intro until you sadly have to admit that these are the vocals for the track. There is a moderate discordant off-beat with overdriven guitars. Touches of keyboard makes an entrance. The charged, rolling pace of the music is great, but I’m not certain I like the overbearing, totally plain and unmelodic vocals. 'Press Gang' has the drums and bass guitar back up the raw spoken words, before pushing through as a great full-band sound. The vocals are too prominent, so that you long for any instrumental break. This is a tribute to Charlie’s grandfather who worked as a photojournalist and war correspondent in Fleet Street. 'Leg Room' takes a while to get going, but the music is different and exciting. It’s plain to realise, however, that it is only there to support the angry vocals.

'Journal of a Plague Year' has a repeated riff spoken over. This is pretty non-descript and dull. 'History Week' is a filler. The stand-out track is 'Decoration' (“I’ve never seen a dog do what that dog does.”), halfway through the listing. It sounds energetic and purposeful so that you can almost forgive the vocal style. This still owes much to the solid drumming, but it has guts. You could say it’s more visceral as you would expect. It explores the absurdity of life, using Britain’s Got Talent as a kind of allegory. The following track, 'Slideshow', bursts in on the consciousness. The melody is catchy, the guitar raucous, and even the vocalist tries a little bit of actual singing. The quality – in my opinion – plummets from this point. It’s a real shame, because this band has so much potential. The music of 'Fathers and Sons' is inventive, but you can’t help feeling it’s a little repressed, and that they should let go more. 'The Ref' is a short noise piece leading into 'The Powers of Ten'.

'This Island' has a nice intro riff but the song goes off-the-boil. I don’t believe the full potential of this band has been fully realised yet. 'Saintless' is an unfortunate mess to finish with.  With such a poignant subject matter regarding Charlie’s wife’s difficulty during and after the birth of his son, it somehow fails to make its point. The promise of Punk has me confused and a little disappointed. It’s original, yes. It’s an amalgamation of different sounds and genres. Perhaps TV Priest is still experimenting, searching for its style. That is perfectly fine and to be expected from a new band. If the words were sung, rather than stated, and brought down in the mix a little, this band might become a force to be reckoned with.


Ty Power

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