TV Priest – ‘Uppers’ album review

TV Priest’s debut album ‘Uppers’ finds the four-piece embracing the beautiful and terrifying unknown moments that shape every aspect of our lives. Formed of four childhood friends who made music together as teens before drifting apart and then coming back together in late 2019, the band is a result of each member’s need to fulfil their creative spark as an antidote to the mundanity of ‘real life’.

Vocalist Charlie Drinkwater declares ‘Well, this could be the first day of the rest of your life but I was mystified by the images on the screen’ in a preacher style over the art-punk of album opener ‘The Big Curve’ and this frenzied blend of energy, confusion, anger and riffs is just a glimpse of what’s to come. While this song finds the band pushing ahead despite many setbacks (‘I was too busy looking forward, no one was looking back at me’), the following ‘Press Gang’ is an examination of what the media has become compared to when Charlie’s grandfather worked as a photojournalist (1950s-’80s) and how so many outlets have helped contribute to our post-truth society. ‘Leg Room’ slows things down a little but is no less riotous as Charlie tackles throwaway culture: ‘Hollywood is no longer a place, Hollywood rains acid in your face’.

‘Decoration’ is all about the mundane aspects of modern life and how so many of us are just trying to make it through to the next round, even if that means keeping up appearances: ‘It’s all just decoration’; ‘My feature wall is outstanding’. Charlie also looks at how we’re so desperate to keep up with the latest trends that we never stop to appreciate art forms (or possibly seek out things that are more to our individual tastes?): ‘Did I see the TV adaptation of the latest book craze?’ The anthemic ‘Slideshow’ sounds like The National’s angrier little brothers covering The Fall as the band self-depreciatingly ponder how ‘I’ve probably never had an original thought’ and ‘All I can do is talk’ while ‘Powers of Ten’ is a tale of someone losing faith – ‘I’m just a priest in search of a God’ – set against an invigorating crescendo of post-punk noise.

Although written and recorded before the rest of the world christened the UK ‘Plague Island’, ‘This Island’ talks about the black skies that have engulfed the nation over the past five years and how upsetting it is that so many people look back to a time when everyone ‘spoke the same’ with real pleasure. Written following tough moments during his wife’s pregnancy, the seven-minute closer ‘Saintless’ is inspired by a note Charlie left for his son shortly after he was born. It’s an ode to the love shared between family and friends that gets you through any number of difficult times – while also appreciating we’re all fallible and will make mistakes – backed up against a hair-raising hook that captures the spirit of Fontaines DC or The Walkmen.

‘Uppers’ is an electrifying and exhilarating record that touches upon so many emotions and feelings that make up life…

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