The Television Personalities - My Dark Places
I may be a bit too young to remember The Television Personalities the first time around, but the influence of Dan Treacy (who IS The Television Personalities) was far reaching. Apparently Kurt Cobain's favourite band and Alan McGee's inspiration to form Creation Records he took the path that all too many artists follow and got consumed by drug use. Most people thought he'd died, but he turned up whilst serving a prison sentence, googling his own name and posting a note saying he was OK on a website devoted to his music. So it's an impressive feat that he's still around, still producing music and this background goes some way to explaining his absence. But things have changed a little since he's been away...
The first thing to expect when listening to this is that it's not going to be an easy ride. These songs are dark, sparse and not an easy listen. The mainly lo-fi arrangements here just act as a loose set of hooks for him to hang the lyrics from. Of recent acts that echo these sounds, Babyshambles comes the closest. Where those are just plain ramshackle, here things are deliberately kept basic with Treacy's voice sounding frail, the London accent thick and strong. Songs like All The Young Children On Crack and Ex-Girlfriend Club feel like the lyrics are delivered in a kind of stream of conscious manner, the music sounding like a second thought to the words.
Yet tracks like My Dark Places and You Kept Me Waiting Too Long show that he's not unable to write a tune, the latter sounding like The Fall at their most striped back whilst They'll Have To Catch Us First could be a distant relative of The Streets Fit But You Know It (though I doubt I'll be thanked for that comparison). In the end though these tracks stand out as lonely beacons of light in an otherwise dark mess of an album. There are not enough tunes; it's just too dark, too off putting for you to empathise with him. There's no way in and I've got a funny feeling that Dan Treacy likes it that way.