TV Smith

Coming in to Land

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In a career that has at least partially been constructed out of delivering dramatic surprises, four songs into TV Smith's eighth solo album he delivers what might be his most unexpected move yet, a "Complaints Department" that falls somewhere between standup comedy and a John Otway-esque rap, nailed to a positively gorgeous chorus that isn't simply miles divorced from the speed-rant fury of the song's protagonist, but could be a different song altogether. And it works brilliantly because of that. The Complaints Department is one place Coming in to Land won't be heading. Continuing down Misinformation Overload's rockier corridors ("True Believers" is almost Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" with added didgeridoo), Coming in to Land also bristles with Smith's characteristic lyrical snarl, with his usual array of societal and governmental targets remaining as freshly deserving of his world-weary fury as they ever were -- will they never learn? But "A Trouble to Yourself," with almost every line loaded down with a bitter truth, and "Dawning of False Hopes" remind us not to blame everyone for all that is wrong, while the title track bleeding in on guitar and jet engines completes a brutal triptych of songs with a kick in the eye to modern "grey sky thinking." Elsewhere, "Headhunters," a song that Smith first aired (but never recorded) a quarter of a century ago with Cheap, makes a very welcome appearance here, one more in the slow percolation of his lost annals into the modern era, and the whole thing wraps up with "No Message Please," a lament that takes on even greater significance in the memory of the riots that shook Smith's U.K. homeland just weeks after this album's 2011 release. Smith both anticipated and documented the last round of truly widespread disorder in Britain's streets 30 years ago, and "Wheels Out of Gear" remains a staple of his live show today. "No Message Please" has that same quality of prophesy turned to reality.