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Television Personalities - A Memory is Better Than Nothing

  by Mark Rowland

published: 30 / 5 / 2010

Television Personalities - A Memory is Better Than Nothing
Label: Rocket Girl
Format: CD


Staggeringly good latest album from the Television Personalities, which despite the band and front man Dan Treacy's long history of bad luck, proves surprisingly optimistic and also possibly the group's best album to date

Being a Television Personalities fan requires some commitment. You have to be prepared for some heartache and disappointment. Throughout the band’s 30-year career, singer/songwriter Dan Treacy has, consciously or subconsciously, sabotaged his career, and the current incarnation of the Television Personalities has had so much bad luck recently that you long for a break for the band. Alhough the band’s situation and their gigs are often painful experiences (though when the band is good, they’re very, very good), the Television Personalities' magic is still very much alive on record. The songs on 'A Memory is Better Than Nothing' are staggeringly good – Treacy’s gift for writing brilliant songs has never diminished despite all the hardship he’s faced over the years, and like Daniel Johnston’s recent album ‘Is and Always Was’, the production perfectly compliments Treacy’s shambolic delivery. Opening with the title track, an upbeat, jangly pop number that sets an optimistic tone for the album, ‘A Memory…’ brings Treacy’s songwriting front and centre, utilising keyboard arrangements, electronics and conventional instruments to emphasise each song’s emotional core. ‘She’s My Yoko’ in particular achieves this brilliantly, with a John Lennon-style arrangement that makes lines such as “I don’t want us to be lonely” seem genuinely touching. Generally the album is on the softer side of Treacy’s output, with a gentle melancholy to songs like ‘Funny He Never Married’ and a cautious optimism to others, such as ‘The Girl With the Hand Me Down Clothes’. In many ways, particularly atmospherically, ‘A Memory…’ brings to mind the Flaming Lips’ masterpiece ‘The Soft Bulletin’, and possibly will be considered to be Treacy’s best album as time goes on.

Track Listing:-
1 A Memory Is Better Than Nothing
2 The Girl in the Hand Me Down Clothes
3 She's My Yoko
4 Walk Towards the Light
5 Funny He Never Married
6 Except for Jennifer
7 People Think That We're Strange
8 My New Tattoo
9 If You Don't Want Me
10 Come Back to Bed
11 The Good Anarchist
12 All the Things You Are
13 You Freed My Spirit

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Mark Rowland speaks Dan Treacy, the front man with influential C86/punk group the Television Personalities about his return to making music, his much publicised mental and physical health battles, and the band's new album which is due out next year


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With the first four Television Personalities LPs set for a reissue, Mark Rowland takes a look at their legacy

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