London’s TV Priest, a band that have only ever played one show, are this week set to release their debut album, Uppers. The band are made up of 4 childhood friends, vocalist Charlie Drinkwater, Nic Bueth on keys and bass, Alex Sprogis on guitar and drummer, Ed Kelland. ‘Uppers’ is a story of the times it was produced in, yet offering reassurance that the emotions we feel are completely fine.
Opening track, The Big Curve, sees TV Priest grab listeners’ attention from the offset. It holds loud, exciting guitar with intriguing percussion, with its scarily relatable lyrics discussing how our daily lives are consumed by what we see on our screens. ‘This could be the first day of the rest of your life, but it was mystified by the images on the screen,’ sings Charlie, offering an eye-opening yet honest look into all of our daily lives.
Press Gang is the album’s current single, and is influenced by Charlie’s grandfathers work as a photojournalist and a war correspondent on Fleet Street between the 1950’s and the 1980’s. The track commentates on how society consumes the news today, an angsty number with clattering drums which convey a feeling of sincere disappointment.
Recorded before the Coronavirus pandemic, Journal of a Plague Year sees TV Priest bring something new to the table. The track is inspired by Daniel Defoe’s 17th century book of the same name, which is an account of the bubonic plague. It almost feels prescient, ‘Hey buddy, normalise this’ declares Charlie, a statement that will hit close to home as deaths seem to become another statistic.
Decoration is an attack on instant fame, a funny number that opens (and closes) with a misremembered Simon Cowell quote about a performing dog on Britain’s Got Talent, ‘I’ve never seen a dog do what that dog does’ chimes Charlie, as he captures the mundanity of modern life. It’s chorus, ‘It’s all just decoration’, is credited to the 2-year old niece of guitarist Alex’s fiance, who offered him reassurance when he pretended to be scared of Halloween decorations, yet the line summarises the idea that life is often dressed up to be something that it isn’t.
Slideshow is a full throttle number, yet feels as if to be the most accessible on the album. The track sees Charlie admit sheepishly ‘all I can do is talk’, with the band having a moment of realisation, ‘I’ve never had an original thought’, he continues, before reaching an abrupt end.
Fathers and Sons sees TV Priest acknowledge the consumerism and materialism of day to day life, with the repetition of ‘How you feeling friend?’ reminding listeners to stop and reflect on their own feelings, remembering what is valueable to us, offering to step in, helping in any way possible.
Another unnerving number, Powers of Ten allows the band to bring their personal experiences of previous ‘normal’ jobs into the album. The drums and bass here slowly march, as if to accompany the lyric ‘build a ladder, reach the top’. The track ends with almost a minute of white noise and fuzz, adding to the uncertainty of it, a real stand out upon Uppers.
Album closer, Saintless, is the most personal and raw moment on Uppers. It’s an intense track which Charlie wrote for his son, following on from a difficult time that his wife faced during and after child birth. At 7 minutes long, Saintless burns slowly, yet never wastes a second. The song is written about how the world can be a difficult place, yet giving love to those that need and appreciate it can help you through.
Uppers sees TV Priest take risks both musically and personally. It’s an album that says what listeners are thinking, a realistic commentary on the world around us which is somehow unnerving, yet offers comfort at the same time. With Uppers, TV Priest have delivered an album that couldn’t have been released at a better time.