As the first chord of the thunderous opening riff smashes through your eardrums, it is clear that Ontario’s TV Freaks are as angry as ever. The Hamilton hardcore four-piece have made a name for themselves by creating the type of supercharged punk-rock of which The Stooges themselves would be proud. Rattling through songs at a rate of knots is their trademark, so TV Freaks are not straying far from familiar territory with bad luck charms.
Do not mistake this. TV Freaks’ third record represents a move forward since 2013’s Two. The production itself sounds — and whisper this — ‘polished.’ Before long-term fans start to run for the hills, let me explain myself. It was never going to be an Ellie Goulding record produced by Calvin Harris, but it is certainly more refined compared to their previous, DIY style work.
The new record also demonstrates a step forward in musicianship and confidence. There’s barely an atmospheric bum-note to be found, with the band no longer hiding behind the lo-fi production fuzz their genre is susceptible to. The songs benefit from this newfound assuredness, pushing into new territory. The slowed down marathon “FORGET YOU” sees frontman Dave O’Connor rasping “Forget you! / That’s all I ever do!” with ever-present gusto, over a riff that almost resembles 12-bar blues. Whilst “Love Fade” also utilises a slower tempo as O’Connor pries beyond his satirical deflation of a failed relationship and opens with “Don’t wanna spill my guts / My mind has had enough.” It’s a world away from “Cut, cut, cut, cut …” on Two’s lead single “Knife.”
TV Freaks have not forgotten the ramshackle punk formula which they built their reputation on. And why would they? “Pick My Brain” and “Song for RJ” — the latter has a contender for riff of the year — are the primest examples of why the band has such a committed following. They write classic punk rock that is uncomplicatedly enjoyable. Lead single “Thirteen” will also make you start pogoing no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
So bad luck charms is progression, yes. But it is more TV Freaks doing what they do best. It’s not revolutionary but good quality punk-rock is hard to beat and I, for one, hope they continue to churn out albums of the same nature until I can bounce no more.