Talk Show have managed to rack up quite an impressive following with their interesting blend of pop-rock fusion with accolades from the likes of Boo Hewerdine, Squeeze, and Frank Turner. Their newest release, Permanent Honeymoon, claims to have a sound that fuses Velvet Underground with Kraftwerk, and that description fits the band quite accurately, with a touch of Boo Hewerdine’s songwriting style as well.
It is difficult to pin down the bands sound when the most obvious way of describing their sound is by comparing them to acts from the 1970s; the worry remains that most of the songs on the album will sound as if they are a few decades too late. There is an element of modern pop-rock in the sound as well, but in no way that particularly stands on an initial listen. The opening track, “Molly Ringwald” is a strong beginner, but the follow-up, “Time Thieves” sounds too much like the band’s influences and that distracts quite heavily.
The synthesisers are heavy throughout, which is a shame as the album credits Gustaf Llunggren with an impressive range of brass, woodwind, and stringed instruments – more of these would certainly make the music sound more varied. As the fairly short album progresses to its midpoint, “Silent Film” catches the ear as an interesting sounding waltz, with a slightly psychedelic background soundtrack providing accompaniment to an airy vocal line which makes the song sound like it would have fared a lot better in a less upbeat key.
“Mademoiselle” follows immediately, as the album’s radio single. It bursts into life like a modern rock song should, though the “do do do” chorus feels a tad generic and understated. The song would really work better if it were not so late in the album, because by this point we have heard too many similar sounding tracks for it to be as attention-grabbing as a lead single should be on a pop-rock album.
“Hello Beautiful” is a track that thankfully sticks out as being slightly different, at least as it starts with a pleasant fingerpicked acoustic guitar, before the synths and electronic drums kick back in to spoil it slightly. “End of the Reel” is pleasant, but having a primarily piano epilogue after such a short album just feels slightly odd.
The songwriting element is strong, and the band have nailed their niche well even if it does at times feel as if they are attempting to recreate their influences instead of build on them. Throughout listening though, it is hard not to be reminded of the latest Boo Hewerdine album. However, It is too pop-rock for those seeking an interesting genre listen, and the tracks all sound far too similar to each other and to other acts for someone seeking something new. The production quality is overall very good, and the band seems to know what they are doing, but it is too dated and too simplistic.