There’s a humbling eclecticism in Late TV’s sound when comparing ‘I Gotta Pay’ with previous singles like ‘Citizen’ and ‘Great Gulfs’. Just when you think you can pin them down, they throw a swerve ball from somewhere left-of-field. That their music still (lucidly) gets to the core of who they are with every release is a testament to their versatility as songwriters, their voraciousness as listeners, and their clarity of vision as a group. Their latest release is a poised and effortless foray through the familiar avenues of jazz and funk, with Defunkt-style motifs of punk and new wave, (frontman Luke Novak name-checks the seminal ‘Make Them Dance’ as an influence), weaved in alongside the afrobeat-tinged rock of The Budos Band. Lyrically Novak has modern culture in his sights as he threads together a series of financial frustrations and western cultural ironies with rhyming couplets to make a dour and absurdist collage. Like all the music of Late TV, it’s a mutant assemblage of ideas that succeeds through the canniness of its juxtapositions, never setting out an ideal, but through the subtlety and force of their craft and energy alone, leaving us in no doubt as to what’s being communicated.
Amidst the cultural detritus of television’s after hours rises a freaky new street beat played by London’s Late TV. Culling influences from jazz cats and art rockers, B-movies and trash television, via Lynch and Tarantino, Late TV are the moonlighting house band for a surreal all-night dream club where the intangible dance floor shifts and folds to become the set piece of a talk show beamed onto the farthest reaches of your channel selector. Helmed by Luke J Novak, who hails from the slabbed post-industrial backwater of Kidderminster, Late TV originates from a folk noir group formed by Luke and Richard ‘The Showman’ Bowman, a drummer whose restless search for groove quickly outgrew their genre. Joined by Indiana’s jazz fusion obsessed Ryan Szanyi on bass, Parisian keyboard maestro Martin Coxall, tenor sax player Evesham Nicholas, and Matthew Halsall (whose bionic heart valve’s separate mic-detectable rhythms occasionally cause problems in the studio), their new outfit Late TV harks back to a time when music was all fearless fusion and intractable improvisation. 2018 saw them take major steps forward. Kickstarted with the release of their brilliant ‘Citizen’ single, the group then appeared at Standon Calling Festival that summer alongside Goldfrapp and spiritual forefather Bryan Ferry. They followed it up early this year with the wind-swept soft rock of ‘Great Gulfs’ – its louche romanticism showcasing their immense songwriting versatility. In the postmodern wastelands of pop they’re the high-brow/low-brow mutant junk dwellers, collecting the shards of our fragmented culture and building something both irresistibly dangerous and dangerously irresistible.