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Misinformation Overload

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Album Review

First things first. Anybody coming to TV Smith's sixth solo album from the directions laid down by the bulk of its predecessors is in for a surprise. Live, Smith has been edging back toward a full-frontal electric assault for several years now, and 2003's Not a Bad Day certainly sent the needles into the red when it felt like it. If Misinformation Overload has any precedent in Smith's catalog, however, it's within the beautiful bludgeoning of Cheap, a point reinforced by the album's thermonuclear revision of 2003's download single "Not in My Name." Once it was a ballad. Now it's a bear trap. Lyrically, Smith set out his stall long ago, a questioning rage that focuses on the petty injustices that society takes for granted, then vivisects the apathy that permits it to do so. It's an approach that has never lost its power to provoke, while the storm unfolding behind his voice only amplifies the scalpel. Of course you'll hold past Smith combos the Adverts, the Explorers, and Cheap in the highest regard, but this latest lineup (drummer Vom Ritchie, bassist Happi Muller, and longtime keyboardist Tim Cross) might well be Smith's most visceral yet — a point that he (perhaps inadvertently) amplifies in the opening "Good Times Are Back," which asks whether they really existed in the first place, while reminding you of all the joys that modern society has invented to replace them. Across an album as powerful as Misinformation Overload, it's difficult to play favorites. "Ghosts of Westminster," condemns the absentee landlord style of government that now seems de rigueur in the corridors of power, and "Ark of Suburbia" (that might be your home he's talking about) certainly packs some of Smith's most evocative imagery. But "You Saved My Life Then Ruined It" offers up one of the catchiest hooks he's ever draped across a song, while "Carrying On" closes the album on such a note of hope and optimism that you can't help wondering why it leaves you feeling so melancholy. Never mind, though, just go back to the beginning.


Born: Devon, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

With TV Smith's Explorers having imploded in late 1981 and the success of the Adverts receding further into the past, TV Smith launched his solo career in early 1982, cutting a single, "Burning Rain," with Rondelet labelmates the Nervous Germans. Label politics conspired against the release actually taking place, but the new...
Full bio
Misinformation Overload, TV Smith
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