Another Irish band? Praise the Lord!
Last year saw the rise of fellow Irish musicians Fontaine’s D.C., The Murder Capital and Inhaler. And now we have TV People. It’s nice to think Irish music is more than Bono or something Michael Flatley dances to. Although I saw river dance and that show was a testament to Irish culture, bravo. The re-emergence of Irish rock bands in the mainstream is firstly refreshing to prove Irish thought goes beyond leprechauns and potatoes, but also in disrupting what seems to be mainly Manchester and London based bands colonising the rock scene. This is probably my own political bitterness swaying me but thank god, it’s not another jig I’m forced to Irish dance to in the late hours of a house party.
I could go on all day about Irish people with nationalist pride. But you would probably get lost in translation, the cultural discrepancies manage to plough through my writing as well, aye sure ya know yourself anyway.
Back to TV People, the Dublin four-piece have swept through the radio airwaves with singles Kitchen Sinking and Time Eats Up, now back with more – Nothing More, ironically. At face value, TV People are challenging the norm with a commentary on the emotional monotony of our 2020 TV generation. All consumed by screens, the band are reorienting our senses to listen to the problems surrounding our age in a progressive stab of lyrical rock. With impressive connections, Nothing More was mixed and recorded at Darklands Audio with Dan Doherty (Fontaines D.C., Vulpynes) and mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Christian Wright (Radiohead, Blur, LCD Soundsystem).
Nothing More is an anthem of existentialism, but the good kind. ‘Existentialism’… I honestly hate that word – precocious boys in seminars with Nietzsche on their shelf and a penchant to blurt “Kafka-esque” every other sentence come to mind. That’s what happens when you do an English degree, words with importance like existential become caricatures of pastiche stereotypes. BUT, thank you TV People for not being Kafka-esque. Existential in this sense isn’t the layers and layers of who, what, where, when, why we question to find our purpose. But rather, existential as in existing – not why we exist but what we should do to fulfil our existence. Maybe that’s just as pretentious. Whatever, it’s by an Irish group you know there’s some truth beyond aesthetic appeal in there! (Here I am being biased again).
A pulsing drum rhythm and coupling guitar open the track with a swift base soon rinsing the melody creating something reminiscent of Joy Division, aptly accentuated by the baritone vocals. While Ian Curtis-esque, Paul Donohoe’s vocals are a refreshing mix of docile and rapturous urgency, distilled by progressive lyrics in a garage rock backdrop. The singer interjects ‘it was easy in the end / don’t buy the bullshit trend’ immediately – point and focus are made don’t expect any emotional cushioning from TV People. That’s surely clear as traditional song structures have been turned upside down as we begin with the end, but what’s after that? Nothing more, as the title suggests – but that’s only the first line.
As the song goes on, a sort of lethargic energy fuses with the gritty rock ambience. The whole song feels like a contradiction as the melancholic lyrics ponder a dissatisfaction of life that ‘comes as it is goes / making less of us all’. Even being ‘so tired of it all’, the music is relentless paralleling the lyrics even in their dejection. A sort of resolution comes with the intermission or at least a pensive break from the subtle doom of the track. Even in the dreary darkness of monotony, ‘times of life illuminate the black and white’. There is a sort of hope alluded to but not fully recovered in the song. The song finally acts as a resistance to all it discusses – the boredom, the nothingness, the complete draining aspects of living. Way to kick a girl’s social life when she’s in a pandemic, or something about a dog. The beating persists as the music develops grating to thrashing rock, punching the sentiments into our ears. ‘I waste so much time’ surely resonates with a lot of us – 6 months ago plans were budding to get fit, learn a language or something you can only do in the confines of lockdown. And here we are in September, with a patriotic motivation to visit the pub as a reward for achieving absolutely nothing. Hats off to the others – the achievers, how I envy you.
I think that is what makes TV People’s statement in Nothing More so important. Music acts as a refuge and even in songs like this fortifies the idea we should not waste time, listen to music or relax how you will, but don’t make it an empty activity. I suppose, for instance, in relating to something like music allows for a regeneration of your feelings, whether the same as TV People’s or not, and the addition of a new perspective through what was initially a way of relaxing becomes an opportunity for fulfilment. While we could all do with a bit of cheering up this is probably not for the ‘Friday Night Bops’ playlist, but a must listen to keep from spiralling into the Kafka-esque existentialism.
That’s just an interpretation of course. TV People are taking a revival of gritty rock from the garage to make a comment on the social issues for this so-called TV generation we are all privy to. Even ending in an anticlimactic despondency, there still lingers a semblance of hope that there is more than nothing to life itself and certainly to TV People’s oeuvre. Or more than television? More than people? BRB, spiralling into existentialism.