Former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd’s solo career could best be described as fitful. This is just his fifth solo album in nearly three decades, and the album cover should clue you in to part of the problem. I’m not talking about the self-destructive recreation options it depicts, although in years past Lloyd’s certainly consumed more of some of them than was wise, but the cluelessness it takes to put your record inside something so hideous and try to sell it. Lloyd intends it to warn us that we must come to terms with our animal nature; if Baboon Dooley was still around, that alone would earn him a spot in a strip.
All could be forgiven if the music delivered, but obliviousness and ugliness rule there, too. Lloyd remains a splendid guitarist, and this record has its share of solos that would elevate any half-decent song to near greatness; however, his nose for the move that’ll kill a song is sharper than that of any drug-sniffing dog. Take “Glurp,” the closest he comes to sounding like Television. It starts quite promisingly with a jewel-like guitar figure and a skipping, Billy Ficca-like beat. (Ficca doesn’t play on it, although he does appear elsewhere on the record.) But he burdens it with that horrible title, a 9/11 lyric that makes Neil Young’s “Let’s Roll” look nuanced by comparison, and a barking vocal cut out for the worst bar band boilerplate. The solo is great, of course, but you probably won’t wait around for it.
Elsewhere he lifts riffs as obviously as possible from the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Move and AC/DC; his words may try to mock the base motives of the characters he draws, but his irony is so leaden that it’s a mercy when they fall flat. Lloyd’s taste for meat and potatoes rock may have made him an essential balance to Tom Verlaine’s flightiness in Television, but here it just feels like jettisoned ballast, going nowhere but down.