Review Summary: "When I see the glory / I ain't gotta worry..."
People like Marquee Moon
. It’s a gross understatement, considering the retrospective acclaim it received by critics, or public adoration by musicians like Michael Stipe and John Frusciante. Still, whatever discussion there is about Television inevitably drags Marquee Moon into the equation – and here lies the problem in approaching the band’s sophomore effort, Adventure
. Thirty-nine years of building Marquee Moon’s pedestal, praising the precise attack of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s dual melodies, slowly recognising it as a cornerstone of what rock music could become – it begs the daunting question “How the hell do these guys top this?”
They didn’t need to. Adventure
is the sound of Television going back and doing exactly what they had done before musically – and the magic is still there
. It’s what is outside the band that contributes to the quieter sound of Adventure; John Jansen’s production sands down the edges of Marquee Moon
, and in doing so allows the softer flourishes of Television’s sound to expose themselves. The cascading piano of ‘Guiding Light’ comes back and forcefully darkens the mood of ‘The Fire’, yet restrains itself before it starts to overshadow the trademark cleanliness of Verlaine and Lloyd’s lines. Elsewhere, the start-stop motions of Marquee Moon’s
title track form the backbone of ‘Glory,’ and and the solos of 'Foxhole' are just as freewheeling as ‘Friction’. Normally such similarity in structure would detract from the experience, but in the case of Adventure
, it simply proves Verlaine’s ability to craft one great song after another.
If there’s little difference in the band’s music, there’s a larger difference in Verlaine’s lyrics. Admittedly, Verlaine did previously convey a lot of thematic tension in between all the cryptic metaphors and puns, but it was infused with a playful tone, and ambition for “a whole lot more than anyhow.” Here, Verlaine imbues a touch of weariness alongside his paranoia. Amidst the gliding atmosphere of ‘Carried Away,’ he exclaims “Everything was more than I took it for,” while the bouncing Beatles-esque “Careful” twists itself with a loss of sweet dreams and seemingly insincere declarations of apathy. New lanes are aptly explored – such as the soldier’s lament in ‘Foxhole,’ a rare outing into war by Verlaine – but for the most part, the lyrical obtuseness of Television’s debut is less present, save for the pondering of whether the ‘dream dreams the dreamer.’ In hindsight, this resignation could be seen as a herald of Television’s quiet break-up months later – but in its own context, it’s a compelling collection of Verlaine’s dissatisfaction.
Though history has been kinder to Television as it passed, Adventure
seems to have been shunted aside. Nevertheless, it stands as a classic in its own right, even against the power of Marquee Moon
. In the very least, as the years pass, audiences collectively challenge Verlaine’s confident denouement of ‘The Fire’: “Everything scattered / Nothing was missed.” As their own reunion proved, everything reunited; nothing was lost.