Review ·

The
first draft of this review originally said "Jangly guitars and
semi-catchy tunes" and that's all. Way I figured it, what else needs to
be said about Human Television? That description is perfect, almost too easy. Look at Who You're Talking To is jangly as a motherfucker.

[more:]

 

But
after many long talks with the Prefix honchos, who gently reminded me
that I'm contractually obligated to deliver at least 300 hot words per
review (and un-gently threatened to knock off a couple digits from my
paycheck if I don't comply: bastids!), I decided not only to submit to
their harsh demands, but to go the proverbial extra mile by forbidding the use of the word "jangle" in any permutation henceforth. Great writers challenge themselves, right? Kinda like how Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea without
allowing himself the use of the letter R. So once I indent, that'll be
all she wrote: No mention of jangly guitars or what-have-you; no usage
of jangle as a verb (I jangle, you jangle, he/she/it jangles); no
invoking "Mr. Bojangles" for the sake of comparison. None of that, none
at all, starting now.

 

Yes.
Well. Now that I've been sitting here with my fingers poised on
asdfjkl; for the last hour and a half, I've had some time to think. And
what I'm thinking is, maybe That Word wasn't the best choice to
describe Human Television in the first place. (I knew it
seemed too easy.) That Word, when applied to guitar bands, implies a
strong commitment to pop; and although this album is plenty melodic,
pop it ain't. Lacking the hooks and/or verse-to-chorus dynamic shifts
found in true guitar-pop (think early R.E.M., dB's, Teenage Fanclub),
these songs instead settle on simple, pretty, almost aggressively
unmemorable riffs and tunes, as flat as the Midwest. I've spun Look at Who You're Talking To
eight or nine times, four times while awarding it full concentration,
and I couldn't hum you a single song. And I've got a pretty good
attention span. (By the way -- this is completely off-topic -- but
check it: Look at Who You're Talking To. Look Who's Talking Too ...
starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, two avowed Scientologists. Do
you think the members of Human TV are Scientologists too?)

 

Anyway,
if "pretentious" is a big old no-no in your book, you might just love
this album. These must be twelve of the most pleasant-sounding,
likeable, least pretentious rock songs ever written. (If Human
Television were a beer, it'd be Yuengling.) But as someone who believes
that art is the better part of pretension (and vice versa), I'll choose
to keep my distance from these guys for the time being. However, I'm
declaring this right now, Human Television: If you guys ever come up
with songs to go along with those simple, pretty riffs of yours, I
reserve the right to shamelessly hook myself to the back of your
bandwagon. In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you.

 

Discuss this review at The Prefix Message Board    

Human Television Web site

Human Television on Gigantic Music's Web site

Gigantic Music Web site (streaming audio)

"In Front of the House" MP3

"I Laughed" MP3

"I Laughed" video

"Tell Me What You Want" video

Irving - Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers Mute Math Mute Math

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