The noisy British post-punk band TV Priest sound coarsely exuberant on their invigorating debut full-length album Uppers, which is available now from Sub Pop Records.
The group’s particular brand of post-punk feels sprawling and rather heavy on the punk side of the equation. Although they’re often a bit on the ethereal and moody side, the group’s tunes are remarkably formidable, and there’s really no mistaking the force in the songs. Besides the raw impact of the instrumentals, the group also performs with an energetically stormy intensity. Their electrifying songs feel like they’d fit perfectly in a harried club — if shows were happening at a noticeable rate.
Uppers opens with the kraut-inflected “The Big Curve,” which features repetitious and invigoratingly bellicose rhythms with a tart aftertaste. The song, which features a rather beefy low-end, is pretty brisk, and this energy makes the central perspective of the album feel like some kind of flailing, disjointed dance on a street corner. This rush of energy feels rather cathartic from the very first moments.
“Press Gang,” the album’s second track, opens with a swagger that’s a bit more restrained, but the rush promptly intensifies. Throughout the journey, the instrumentals really shine, with the drums taking an often front-and-center place in the mix and helping build the impact. As the album proceeds, the riffing itself sometimes takes on a somewhat percussive feel. The riffs are confrontational in a somewhat nihilistically inclined sense — rather than a feeling of grim malaise, the instrumentals rush into the scene… and then keep on going.
The abrasion in the energy makes the journey feel rather grounded, amplifying the personable feel. “Decoration,” which appears around the midpoint of the album, features noticeably grittier riffing, while “The Island,” which appears later on and was released as a single, feels particularly aggressive, but not in a solely confrontational way. Instead, there’s somewhat of an orderly swagger as TV Priest explore swirling emotions within a palette of modern anxiety. Within Uppers, every element — from the thinner instrumentation of “Journal of a Plague Year” and beyond — feels tense and jittery, and the instrumentation provides nicely developed vigor for the experience.
Lots of the music feels rather free-flowing instead of sticking to a verse-chorus-verse structure, and in place of this formula TV Priest utilize entrancing repetition. Vocalist Charlie Drinkwater performs with a kind of spoken word cadence, as though he and the rest of the band are magnifying everyday emotional states. Drinkwater sings with a somewhat hoarse and sometimes confrontational edge as he moves through his poetically chaotic observations, and the dynamics of the instrumentals themselves carry a very similar feeling. The whole journey is captivating.
Listen to Uppers below!