The first full album by Television Personalities, recorded after a four-year series of often brilliant D.I.Y. singles recorded under a variety of names, including the O-Level and the Teenage Filmstars, is probably the purest expression of Daniel Treacy's sweet-and-sour worldview. The songs, performed by Treacy, Ed Ball, and Mark Sheppard, predict both the C-86 aesthetic of simple songs played with a minimum of elaboration but a maximum of enthusiasm and earnestness and the later lo-fi aesthetic. The echoey, hissy production makes the songs sound as if the band were playing at the bottom of an empty swimming pool, recorded by a single microphone located two houses away, yet somehow that adds to the homemade charm of the record. Treacy's vocals are tremulous and shy, and his lyrics run from the playful "Jackanory Stories" to several rather dark songs that foreshadow the depressive cast of many of his later albums. "Diary of a Young Man," which consists of several spoken diary entries over a haunting, moody twang-guitar melody, is downright scary in its aura of helplessness and inertia. The mood is lightened a bit by some of the peppier songs, like the smashing "World of Pauline Lewis" and the "David Watts" rewrite "Geoffrey Ingram," and the re-recorded version of the earlier single "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives," complete with deliberately intrusive prerecorded bird sounds, is one of the most charming things Television Personalities ever did. This album must have sounded hopelessly amateurish and cheaply ramshackle at the time of its 1981 release, but in retrospect, it's clearly a remarkably influential album that holds up extremely well.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason