This album is lo-fi, amateurish, and shambolic, but it's not punk, it's pop, and thus we witness the beginnings of twee indie/pop.
This may or may not be the album that launched a thousand bands from Beat Happening to Belle & Sebastian to Apples in Stereo to whatever flavour-of-the-month is getting raved about in the hipster blogosphere, because who knows whether any of those bands actually heard Television Personalities?
But like The Ramones a half decade before, the TVPs demonstrated to youths starting bands that you didn't need conventional musical expertise to make good music. The songs employ efficient one-hook construction and winsome nursery ryhme / pub singalong melodies, as the band shambles along on charmingly sloppily strummed acoustic guitars and thumpy little bassline hooks and trapkit drums.
The TVPs aim at mid-60's scooter-mod pop for the post-punk age (just look at the retro Avengers
cover!), succeed with surf / spy guitar hooks and a Village Green
-era Kinks / softer-folkier side of early Genesis, albeit not entirely in the spirit of those bands (they're much too self-conscious and post-modernistically ironic).
So Television Personalities aren't just wimps, they're self-aware wimps, self-knowledgable enough to use their average-schmuck wimpiness to play to the advantages of wimpiness. Thus the fey laconically-sung vocals, absence of macho rockist aggression, and a rewrite of The Kinks' "David Watts" in the form of "Geoffrey Ingham".
If anything lets the album down, it's the songs themselves, which even at their best reek too much of slightness, which is to say that there are an awful lot of good-to-average songs and not a single one I'd call a classic. The most famous track is "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives", which is kinda lovely an' all, but also kinda go-nowhere, and let's face it, really only famous because of the novelty of its subject matter and title.
by Reviewer: Creative Noise
(blogging at Creative Noise