Adventure (1978) ***1/2
So, you've just released one of the Greatest Albums of All Time, and as a followup you release an album that's.....pretty good. Actually, it's more than "pretty good," it's close to excellent (a 3.75 would more precise, but I ain't rounding up this time. Because I just don't feel like it.) It's initially underwhelming because Television go for a softer, mellower sound, and in contrast to Marquee Moon's stark audio fidelity, the considerably lusher production job here sounds overproduced. The problem, though, comes down to the songwriting: the clear (far and away) highlight is a Richard Lloyd tune, not one of the seven other of Verlaine's. "Days," is transcendently wistful, glorious pop, quality enough to rival even Ray Davies' tune bearing the same title (yeah, that good), though closer in spirit-if-not-quite-sound of the Gene Clark side of the Byrds than the Kinks. The rest of the songs simply aren't transcendent. Adventure doesn't (can't) reach the stellar highs of "Venus" or even "Guiding Light,"; Verlaine's songs are either pleasant trifles such as the boppy opener, "Glory," or the boppy "Careful," or the boppy "Ain't That Nothin' " (wait, wait I think I'm beginning to see a pattern). Or they are overblown epics such as "Foxhole," (love that "soldier boy!" yell smack in the middle) which works, and "The Fire," which doesn't (nice eerie atmospherics, though). The album closes with the drifting, almost listless, yet lovely "The Dream's Dream," which at 6:39 is the longest track with the longest guitar solos; "Marquee Moon," it ain't, not by a spitting shot, but leave that comparison aside (which frankly I doubt was possible of any listener in 1978) and you've got a fine composition in its own right. In short (and this review is much shorter than my review of the debut, because it is a much more lightweight, far less revolutionary, and less substantial LP than its predecessor) this is a good album. Just not a great album. It's a sleeper of an album that gets underrated because it gets unfairly shadowed by its counterpart, and listeners coming in with underwhelmed expectations might be shocked out how pleasant and in spots excellent this album is. But let's not get carried away (reference intended) and overrate it just because it's underrated. Whew! Perhaps we should just shutup, forget about the relativity of ratings, and just listen to the music.