Beautiful Despair

Beautiful Despair

by Television PersonalitiesTelevision Personalities


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After Television Personalities finished recording their classic Privilege album, they had to wait two years until it was actually released. In the interim, main Personality Daniel Treacy kept writing and writing, ending up with enough songs to populate their next album and then some. In 1990, he and his main collaborator at the time, Jowe Head, decamped to the latter's flat and proceeded over a couple weeks' time to demo many of the tunes Treacy had written using a four-track recorder, a primitive drum machine that had to be painstakingly reset after every song, and a variety of barely in-tune guitars, wheezy synthesizers, and homemade percussion. In 2018, Fire Records released Beautiful Despair, a collection of 15 of the songs the duo recorded. Many of the tracks ended up on the next TVPs album, 1992's Closer to God, a couple ended up in the band's live set, and the rest were never released, though they easily could have been. Treacy was on a roll after making one of the best TVPs records (Privilege), and here he delves into his own bad habits and mental frailties, his famous friends, despair (of course), and that old standby, love. Of course, Treacy doesn't write about love quite like anyone else, as tracks like "Honey for the Bears" and the buoyant "Love Is a Four Letter Word" -- which could have been a hit if dandied up and released as a single -- prove. His charting of his mind and life is always fascinating too, and the tracks where he really opens up about things, like "I Don't Want to Live This Life" and "My Very First Nervous Breakdown," are quite affecting. That he attaches his off-kilter, unique lyrics to great music is the cake the cherry rests upon, and this batch is no exception. The songs are uniformly catchy in a sneakily simple way and recorded in stripped-down and rather lo-fi fashion. They definitely come off as demos, but that's not to say that Head didn't take care with the arrangements and sounds. His nimble programming, sparing use of synths, and goofy backing vocals are perfect additions to the songs and show he didn't see the session as just getting the songs down; he wanted to make them sound good, and he did. Unlike many lost albums of demos or unreleased recordings, Beautiful Despair actually stands alone as a really good, sometimes great TVPs album, and that's down to Head's recording and Treacy's reliably weird and wonderful songs. It's a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of a genius at work, and hearing early versions of Closer to God songs is priceless. Add the other unreleased songs to that and...what comes after priceless? Whatever it is, this album is the dictionary definition of it and something any TVPs fan needs to own, and all fans of eccentric pop should check out too (once they've made friends with all the official TVPs albums first).

Product Details

Release Date: 01/19/2018
Label: Fire Records
UPC: 0809236132703
catalogNumber: 327

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