Dan Treacy has quite the reputation. His Television Personalities have been labelled Kurt Cobain’s favourite band, and Alan McGee’s inspiration for Creation Records. His cult reputation for genius and misplaced substance skulduggery has invited a newer, proto-Pete Doherty label. Written and recorded in the aftermath of a stay in a prison ship, My Dark Places reunites Treacy with long-term associate Ed Ball (bass). Victoria Yeulett’s vox and Matthew Sawyer’s sticks complete this era’s line-up. It’d be very easy to waste a few hundred words on the man driving this record. Thankfully these sixteen songs put everything else in the shade.
“Special Chair,” recalls the Specials and Space-Invaders. “All the Young Children on Crack, all the Young Children on Smack” is a desolate anti-folk collage with a rhythmic impulse, reminiscent of Man Atom in its menace. “Ex Girlfriend Club” verges on Daniel Johnston when approaching the psychopathic. Joyously, an Eddy Argos wit and Mike Skinner murkiness temper this—a “face turns pale when I get your emails.” “Dream the Sweetest Dreams” is revelatory. Ironically, given the prototype, it could be the next stage of the Libertines, if stealing the best material John Lennon and Bill Hicks never wrote.
“Velvet Underground” has a lyrical concern with Warhol, Reed and the rest of the wacky NYC gang, but the accompanying ramshackle spiel and instrumentation serves as a fitting Clash homage. The title track’s romantic grasp rivals Albarn’s with Blur. “They’ll Have to Catch Us First” works a perverse Phil Daniels pastiche, while “She Can Stop Traffic” decimates most 1960s thinking guitar pop. Yeulett’s voice contributes remarkably. On the choral noir of “Then A Big Boy Came And Knocked It All Down” she states “paradise is for the blessed, not for the sex obsessed” with prophetic bluntness. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” mixes the Divine Comedy’s grandeur and a deeply personal everyday hurt. So much here merits discussion, and I’m left baffled that its catalyst isn’t held in a widespread acclaim similar to Weller, Strummer/Jones, and various Smiths.
Dan Treacy has some immense talent to dwarf his reputation. Beyond the glossed and vacantly stylized kids, phenomenal genius lies in these dark places.
Babyshambles – Down In Albion
Man Atom – The Point About Gordon Black Being
Television Personalities – And Don’t the Kids just Love It