ALBUM REVIEW: The Pigeon Detectives – ‘TV Show’

Artwork for The Pigeon Detectives’ ‘TV Show’

Yes, believe or not, The Pigeon Detectives are still going. They’ve been going consistently since 2004 too, much to the chagrin of anyone under the impression that the indie landfill of the mid-to-late-2000s was basically a closed-off case. Granted, the lack of any notable noise from The Pigeon Detectives makes it easy to believe they’d bitten the dust. Their last album was back in 2017; the last one of any profile came out six years prior to that; and the last time they’ve had anything close to genuine success was Emergency back in 2008. And even then, they were hardly more than the kind of indie band you’d find at Reading and Leeds by birthright, or sniffing at some daytime Radio 1 play because literally every one of these had to have one song on that playlist.

But let’s move forward to now, where the more optimistic of commentators might spy some kind of window for The Pigeon Detectives to make a resurgence. After all, Lovejoy are currently doing very well with a variant of the 2000s indie sound, and TikTok has willed the Arctic Monkeys’ 505 into hit status 16 years removed from its own release. Surely The Pigeon Detectives could slide onto that wave, right? Well, you kinda need to have been good in the first place, which is a barrier to entry for which clearing has never been in The Pigeon Detectives’ wheelhouse. At best, they had the odd single you might tap your foot to at an indie club night; most of the time, you forgot they even existed.

So here’s TV Show, an album in-keeping with The Pigeon Detectives’ run of having no memorable qualities whatsoever. Fittingly enough, it’s because they’re basically the same as they were a decade-and-a-half ago. If 2017’s Broken Glances was their more ‘mature’, ‘contemplative’ release—allegedly, that is; not a single soul actually ever listened to it—TV Show is fully back to basics, back to a time where the only hint of evolution was the odd synth inclusion. And for a band like this, for whom a ground-up reinvention is pretty much the only course of action to even consider breaking into the modern market, of course this isn’t any good. They don’t even have the good graces to work in a few clearer standouts like they did the first time; it’s just…nothing.

Even the band themselves seem aware of it. On The Warning, they dole out the gotcha line of “Nothing’s changed and every idea feels the same”, which might as well be plastered across the album’s cover instead of its current mediocre artwork. There’s not a shred of ingenuity that’s gone into TV Show, let alone anything different from any past iteration of this band. The guitars and bass are expectedly fast-paced and jumpy on Falling To Pieces and Lovers Come And Lovers Go, in a way that feels dated without explicitly being weighed down by it. Meanwhile, the way the electronic elements and production are added into Summer Girl and the title track portend some form of modernity without accomplishing too much in that sense. It’s the weird sensation that TV Show gives off—an album that could theoretically exist in the modern indie landscape, but lacks any sort of spark or fully-formed concession to energy that could make that convincing. As much as The Pigeon Detectives want to sound like gung-ho indie lads once again, you can’t escape how rote and workmanlike their efforts sound.

More than that, it’s just so boring. How can it not be? The band themselves clearly have no decent ideas to spare, which leaves them circling the drain while trying to do everything in their power to stave off total irrelevance. Naturally, they aren’t successful in that. If they were, they’d actually accomplish something besides pale copies of what was equally as middling years ago. There’s not a single song on TV Show that couldn’t have been released in 2007, such is the lack of additional flavour this band have picked up in the 16-year interim. There’s nothing new or memorable compositionally or lyrically, evidenced by how there’s not a single song that actually manages to stick for more than a fraction of a second after it’s over. On top of that, Matt Bowman remains a generally uninspiring vocalist, desperately trying to avoid a thicker Northern accent that would likely date this even further, and subsequently winding up as even more anonymous.

We’d love to say more—maybe go into more individual tracks or break down some specific production techniques—but that’s about the limit of analysis that The Pigeon Detectives offer. They aren’t a band you think about, or even think of; why else would album be releasing to basically no attention, and will likely continue to receive exactly that throughout its cycle? And while you can blame a shifting cycle that left most indie bands of this ilk floundering when their 15 minutes were up, The Pigeon Detectives themselves aren’t exactly putting in the legwork. They’re flat and flavourless, now more evidently than before when they aren’t even being timely with it. And that leaves TV Show as everything you’d expect—an exercise in staying afloat, with no greater vision or ambition to succeed beyond its means. It’s still hard to be disappointed, though; you’d have had to expected anything at all for that.

For fans of: The Enemy, The Holloways, The Vaccines

‘TV Show’ by The Pigeon Detectives is released on 7th July on Dance To The Radio Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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