Release Date: Feb 5, 2021
Record label: Sub Pop
Uppers starts as it means to go on with a riff that Pulled Apart By Horses would've been proud of in their prime. The album's gritty guitar-led overture then joins forces with lyrics that've seemingly been pulled straight from a motivational poster outside of your local baptist church: "This could be / the first day / of the rest of your life". And so begins Charlie Drinkwater's genius.
Just as it's hard to believe Jason Williamson's claim that he never heard the Fall before forming Sleaford Mods, it's all but impossible to imagine TV Priest could have existed without Protomartyr creating the template. Thick walls of guitar-based throb? A pounding rhythm section making a serious wallop? A vocalist who talks rather than sings as he bellows what sounds like blank verse poetry about the sorry state of our culture? All these qualities are present and accounted for on 2021's Uppers, the first album from London quartet TV Priest, and vocalist Charlie Drinkwater even sounds a bit like Joe Casey to make the effect complete. It's ridiculously easy to identify TV Priest's greatest influence, but if they lifted the big idea from someone else, to their credit they're good enough at what they're doing that you're not likely to mind, even if you're on Team Protomartyr.
When IDLES' Ultra Mono debuted at No. 1 last fall in the UK, it signaled the end of the current post-punk revival. But the sound of surly Brits armed with rich vocabularies and brawny rhythm sections is not going anywhere anytime soon. Rather, IDLES' chart-topping coup confirmed that post-punk has evolved long past the point of needing to be revived.
TV Priest have made the most of their time during lockdown, transferring their energy from the mosh pits to the pulpit of political discourse in Britain, with their rapturous album 'Uppers'. The blistering debut is a collection of delightfully pungent tracks, delivered in all their unashamed, reckless glory. Standout track 'This Island' feels like the musical equivalent of a war cry, throwing us into a frantic dervish of crashing riffs and howling harmonies, a toothless smile and knowing nod to the irony of it all.