Album Review: TV Priest – Uppers (Sub Pop)


For a band that were first playing together 20 years ago, most bands would perhaps not be approaching a high point in their career now, let alone be releasing their debut, but that’s where TV Priest find themselves. They weren’t on my radar until their album was released last week, but following the huge number of great releases already put out in 2021, I could only assume that their punchy punk debut would follow suit, and I was right.

Mixing the best parts of bands like shame, IDLES and The Fall, every song on the album has something to say, backed by extremely well produced post-punk instrumentation, littered with catchy riffs and relentless drums. Putting their best foot forward, TV Priest kick the album off with two of the best tracks on the album, ‘The Big Curve’ and ‘Press Gang’. Both not giving the listener a second before throwing them into whirlpool that this LP is. “Where do you sit on the big curve?” a question snarled at you, almost through sarcastic gritted teeth, gets stuck in your head and will be one that when gigs are back, will be great to shout back at the band.

This is a real surprise result of the year so far for me. Sure, it’s easy to say that a band like Black Country, New Road, Goat Girl or Sleaford Mods are going to release good albums, but for a group of thirty somethings based in London, but not part of the Brixton scene to put out their DEBUT and it be this well rounded and layered is fucking insane. History Week a two-minute instrumental is a beautifully made pit stop for the listener and doesn’t feel like filler at all. It’s impressive that a band like this can have such a promising career ahead, with it being so easy as a punk band to fall into a hole you can’t get out of (not mentioning any Bristolian names). 

With TV Priest it is really hard to guess exactly where they are going to go next, not just from album to album (or even song to song, even from one minute to another). With songs like Decoration you’ll be hard pressed to have any idea what’s going to happen next, but whatever does happen makes perfect sense every time.

The second half of the album is more of the brilliantly made same, even down to the short instrumental, this time coming in the for of ‘the ref‘, though it has to be said they traded some of the beauty of ‘History Week‘ in for a more… Metal Machine Music tasting approach. The song is then followed by the slow burning ‘Powers of Ten‘ which offers probably the best line of the entire LP “I’m just a priest in search of a God”.

All this being said this isn’t a perfect album. It’s a brilliant effort that stands out even more because it’s a debut, but there are a couple of songs that turn into quite forgettable cuts in the context of the album. Again though, TV Priest have set themselves up brilliantly for what I assume will be a great career ahead of them. I wouldn’t expect anymore than brilliance on their next album and their live show will be one I will rush to as soon as I can. I implore anyone reading this to do the same.