Melody Maker 1984?

TV PERSONALITIES
THE PAINTED WORD
Illuminated JAMS 37
OVER the past couple of years I've accused Dan Treacy of self-abuse, sloth, paranoia, naivety, romanticism, nostalgia, honesty and genius. Never cynicism. After hearing "The Painted Word" that diagnosis still stands, only now I no longer consider his ailments curable and nor do I care as long as he keeps making records like this.

"The Painted Word" will be one of the most wanton and wilful cases of self-immolation you're ever likely to hear inside one LP, a deliberate mess of fragments from every emotional and stylistic which-a-way. I'll even stick my neck out and claim it's all in the pursuit of truth. Some of it even works!

Television Personalities affect a scruffy disrespect for where others say their music is coming from because, for them, the song is all that matters.

This puritanism is so strong that the album was apparently recorded by just going into the studio and putting down the songs the first way they turned out. That's not to say they actually intend this method to say anything - it's for us to judge whether the emotional incisiveness of their spontaneity makes up for the discomfort of missing the massage and manicure of the norm.

What they do believe is that, in making music for and about the Eighties, the disorientating effect of the guitar-riddled acid pop of the Sixties is still one of the most vibrant means of getting the listener going on all sorts of levels. Dan's favourite language is a damaged baby-talk which simultaneously haunts like summer days lost, hurts like a nervous breakdown and sometimes smirks with an ironic absurdity. The lyric of "Back To Vietnam" employs cut-up observations, asides and snippets of opinion illuminating the subject from various contrary angles within a shifting mix that attempts to add symbolic atmosphere. Unfortunately we're more aware of the method than the message but, at their best TVP are dead simple and agonisingly sincere. The naive "Sense Of Belonging", for example, is a refreshingly forthright protest against the fashionable cynicism that surrounds CND and the album's classic, "Stop And Smell The Roses", is a brooding piece of romantic regret that borrows heavily from Nico and the Velvets without surrendering it's own sad voice or resorting to despair.

Steve Sutherland
* * *
Thanks to Mark Flunder for providing the source material.
Back to Press Page