Album Reviews

TV Priest – Uppers

(Sub Pop) UK release date: 5 February 2021

TV Priest - Uppers For over a decade we in the UK have been ruled over and ground down by an absolute embarrassment of a government, made up of a political party so lacking in compassion and decency that they are morally unpleasant, transparently corrupt and blatantly misanthropic towards the citizens who elected them, and especially those who chose the opposition. Wages have stagnated, hate crimes are on the rise, whilst unemployment and homelessness are inescapable on this shrinking isle.

Of course that negligent disarray and shameless abuse of power comes as no surprise, and the public’s reaction to the venomous disdain that oozes through their public appearances is finding its way into some of the most significant music being made today. Case in point, the debut release by London’s post-punk gobshites TV Priest who, along with the likes of Idles and Shame, are here to cast a damning critical eye over a patriarchal establishment utterly devoid of empathy.

The full blast of bass and guitars from Nic Bueth and Alex Sprogis that respectively fortify tracks like The Big Curve, Decoration and Slideshow are as grotty, inexorably heavy and domineering as the world frontman Charlie Drinkwater finds himself lashing out at. His acerbic delivery recalls James Murphy at his most inebriated, corpulent and spiteful, the vocal frustrations getting lost in the encroaching feedback. Notwithstanding frequent comparisons with late The Fall godhead Mark E Smith, the album more readily recalls the driving nuts and bolts grunge scratchings of groups like Tad and the politicised feminist wrath of L7, which is fitting as it’s being released worldwide through Sub Pop, the venerated label they both recorded for, finally returning to its abrasive roots after two decades of twee electronica and freak folk confusion.

Journal Of A Plague Year and History Week are the two tracks whose ritualistic rage and fatalistic beauty make them stand out amidst the rising judgmental sludge. Journal charges at you with a industrious krautrock riff and Ed Kelland’s viscous drumming, as Drinkwater ad libs on the feverish impact Covid-19 is having on our existence, linking it to the bubonic terror the world faced centuries before, in the last Dark Age. Spitting the lines “Hey buddy, normalise this. Hey buddy dig that pit, you better get used to it,” he reminds us that the psychological warfare that’s underpinning our deteriorating collective psyche is nothing new and requires immediate intervention. On the elegiac, unbridled and unholy History, a wash of phlegmatic tonal energies get swept away by tenacious surges of feedback.

It all comes together on the closer Saintless, in which Drinkwater taps into his religious nature, sermonising about the unbridled and unholy joys of fatherhood and the dualistic threat when confronted again with mortality. Its chorus states “We’re no saints but that’s ok, would you have it any other way?” This album is testament to the group’s conviction that addressing societal injustices may demonise them, but the answer to the question is emphatically: no, we wouldn’t.

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TV Priest @ Green Door Store, Brighton
TV Priest – Uppers