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Reviews

TVAM
Psychic Data Jeremy Allen , October 25th, 2018 07:44

Think you’ve been here before? This is actually a clever work of retrofuturist innovation and a trompe l’oreille rolled into one

TVAM’s debut album looks both backwards and forwards, drifting in a somnambulant hinterland of psychic anxiety. It conveys a disgust for our regurgitated culture while pilfering with abandon; it’s a cerebral endeavour, and it’s also a peach to dance to. (But from the off, I should state that attempting to decipher main man Joe Oxley’s lyrics is a road beset with tribulation – he swamps his vocals with so much echo that it makes decoding the messages nigh-on impossible.)

Psychic Data is bookended by two experimental seven minute tracks; the title song at the outset and the concluding motorik ‘Total Immersion’. In between there are eight DIY vignettes that bend the mind and tamper subversively with the rules of pop. Some – like ‘CRC’ – are pretty instrumentals that sound like energy storms. Others, such as ‘Bitplain’, are driven by the synthetic attack of distorted drum machines, while ‘Narcissus’ is brutal and mechanical and joyously monotonous – a song which perhaps embodies more the experience of being trapped with a boring narcissist than it engenders the feelings of self-love the title might imply.

The best track, ‘These Are Not Your Memories’, has made its way out of Oxley’s Wigan bedroom and into homes across the country after being playlisted by 6Music. It presents a hermetic world made of shoegaze-y terra firma, with Numanoid nimbuses drifting monolithically by. It’s anthemic enough and familiar enough to create false memories, which is surely the intention given that its main theme is anti-nostalgia. It nods to two distinctive subgenres of alternative pop that are not obvious bedfellows – warm neo-psychedelia and icy electro – and may trigger sentimental yearnings for halcyon discos in student unions. Yes, those subgenres should repel one another, but the use of analogue equipment and the skills of mixer Dean Honer (he of Moonlandingz and International Teachers Of Pop) make it a mesmerising feat of sonic engineering.

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