In these days of GarageBand and Myspace and Autotune it’s easy to take a truly DIY aesthetic for granted. Pockmarked teens in real garages banging out chords in the keys of sexual frustration, social isolation, running down a dream, man, hopped up on Bennies, whatever. In modern times pretty much anyone can make a recording in their bedroom that sounds professional (The First Baptist Praise and Warship Band notwithstanding). The songwriting might be shite, but that’s not the pointe. The Television Personalities had none of these amenities; still their early recordings are amateurish tiny masterpieces. They may not have had access to Mutt Lange (thank the bombastically overdubbed gods for that one), but they did have access to Kinksian songwriting chops. “And Don’t the Kids Just Love It” helped pave the way for the c86 movement of the early ‘80s and the lo-fi movement of the early ‘90s. The music is witty, full of hooks, quietly heartbreaking (the minimalist 50s ballad-style lead guitar and spoken word on “Diary of a Young Man”, especially), and endlessly enjoyable. One of the songs is, tellingly, titled “I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives”, and apparently they also knew where he kept that whimsy of his.
(Part of) a Television Personalities documentary: