Sounds 1984?

The Painted Word (Illuminated Jams 37)
Rating: 4 and three-quarters stars
"WHO NEEDS Picasso? Who needs Barndt? Who needs Van Gough?... I'll paint what I damn well want to." Quite right, a telling couplet culled from this record.

That sort of spirit is admirable when it works, it's the first step to true inspiration. The TVP's are exasperating. Their live canvas may be ugly and unbalanced, cheaply inept, but in the studio they're a different proposition.

The flexible palette of multi-track technology is an essential aid to Dan Treacy in his quest for Art Pop. Mistakes can be rubbed out, voices re-pitched into tune; in short, the primary elements necessary to draw the listener's mind into his songs are controllable.

And what a vast array of moods the TVPs have managed to capture on their latest album. Soul-saddening vignettes of sour adult life, innocent childish reflections, all sung in a quintessential English manner.

That Treacy's vision owes a great deal to the pioneering work of Robert Wyatt doesn't detract one jot from the bold brushstrokes of ideas crammed into the grooves.

There are occasional moments when the TVPs jump over the border into banility, most notably on 'Mentioned In Dispatches'.

Still, even that cut is instrumentally adventurous, as is the whole elpee. Whereas the band stupidly bury their strengths under a crass electric whinge live, here the musical subtleties shine.

Some people think this is the best group in Britain. But that's a pointless debate to engage in when you can listen to such a well-crafted record.

Jack Barron
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Thanks to Mark Flunder for providing the source material.
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