Influence is the most important thing, ever. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that influence is more important than kidneys. Therefore, if one were to dismiss a influentially significant album, then one could then be considered wrong in every aspect of their life. In most countries, you would be legally able to take the thumbscrews to ‘em.
Anywho, this is a review concerning the Television Personalities and song writer Dan Treacy.
And Don’t the Kids Just Love It presages the sound of a million bands that were and another million that could have been, had anyone cared. Song after song of bouncy lo-fidelity rock filtered through rosy-tinted glasses. Snotty and catchy, yet far enough distanced from punk rock derivatives so as not to simply blend in. Treacy’s career creative output, hampered only by a six year stint in one of Her Majesty’s prisons, rivals the likes of Mark E. Smith and Robert Pollard in many ways. You know, tune smiths who have been making music for years. Tune smiths who will make music for years to come. And for Treacy, just like the aforementioned two, quality doesn’t always seem to be priority number one.
Luckily, Treacy’s opening salvo proves very consistent, at times even fantastic. The album rumbles to a start with “This Angry Silence,” a portrait of household dysfunction. Similarly, “World of Pauline Lewis” and “The Glittering Prizes” etch out middle-class tales about office boys and young adult angst. It’s the same frustration that all the bands of the era touch on in some way or another. Treacy doesn’t capture the message any more eloquently than his contemporaries. He merely delivers with finely tuned pop acumen.
Although clearly a product of ‘77, Treacy has a distinct feel for the hooks and eccentricities of ‘67. Think of the band as a deliberate version of The Buzzcocks, except more Strawberry Alarm Clock, less Modern Lovers. Or maybe more Modern Lovers, but even more simplicity. Most songs catapult about sloppily, perfectly ignorant of things like technical proficiency or complexity. But it would be a mistake to write the Television Personalities off as one trick punk ponies. No way, man. They’ve got at least, two, maybe three tricks.
It’s the obvious and not so obvious nods to psychedelic pop and mod rock that truly distinguish the album from the heap. “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives” suggests one prime influence, Barrett-Era Pink Floyd. The light-hearted acoustic tune, complete with bird chirp found sounds, is uniquely humorous compared to the other material. Arguably, however, it’s the influence of the Davies Brothers that looms large over And Don’t the Kids Just Love It. While Treacy’s Barrett tribute is explicit, “Geoffrey Ingram” is a less than subtle nod to classic Kinks tunes like “David Watts” and “Well Respected Man.” The guy who always makes it. Likewise, “Parties in Chelsea” alludes to tradition and lifestyle, reminiscent of Ray Davies’ own Old England nostalgia.
And that’s really where this album lives, at the intersection of naivety and nostalgia. The lyrics mostly touch on simple romantic themes, understandable by pretty much anyone. The cover art imagery of Avengers actor Patrick McNee and supermodel Twiggy draw on the same decade of inspiration as the music. “La Grande Illusion” and “A Picture of Dorian Gray” reach further back into history but both are infused with the same unsophisticated longing. Naive nostalgia, really. Although perhaps all nostalgia is naive in its own way.
In any case, the Television Personalities debut album is truly influential as far as indie rock goes. And we all know how important influence is now, right? The muddy production will turn off some but if you’re used to twee, you’ll get over it. Mostly, you’ll stay for some quality tunes that hold up even in the light of their progeny. But who cares about quality? Influence, dammit!