The Lillingtons - Death By Television (retro review) (Cover Artwork)

The Lillingtons

Death By Television (retro review) (1999)


2019 marks the 20-year anniversary of the classic sophomore album by the Lillingtons entitled DEATH BY TELEVSION. On their debut release, the band churned out heavily Ramones influenced pop punk. With this release, the Lillingtons changed the landscape of pop punk forever. This was not just musically, but lyrically as well in tackling subjects not routinely covered in the genre. DEATH BY TELEVISION is often hailed as one of the greatest pop punk albums of all time. What follows below would certainly support such claims for this crucial release.

“War of the Worlds” kicks things off with a very heavy bottom end. Classic lightning-speed leads are present in the intro that sets the pace nicely for the track. Singer Kody Templeman sings about flying saucers coming down to destroy humans. Science Fiction themes continue to run throughout the album. On “Black Hole in my Mind” the listener hears the tale of an astronaut. This is a dark mid-tempo rocker with a great bridge that features just rhythm and vocals. “I Saw the Apeman (On the Moon)” continues the sci-fi path backed with the more classic Lillingtons sound. This downstroke rocker has multiple effective chord changes to round out the sound. Also present are the classic backing vocals and “whoas” one has come to expect. The heaviest track on the album “Invasion of the Saucermen” is fast and hard hitting. Its driving rhythm and straight forward vocal delivery is a kick in the teeth! In addition to sci-fi, the album covers another topic; comic books. “X-Ray Specs” tells the tale we all remember as a youth about the super powers we were promised from the toy ads seen in the pages of comics. “Phantom Maggot” is a true Ramonescore steady rocker that tells the tale of a super hero maggot putting villain maggots in their place.

DEATH BY TELEVISION does not ignore classic Lillingtons themes though by any means. One of the overall standout tracks “You’re the Only One” would appeal to even the pickiest pop punkers. This sing-along anthem has been stuck in my head for 20 years straight. The slacker lifestyle of many is highlighted in “I Need Some Brain Damage” which lyrically is reminiscent of many Queers and Ramones classics. The heavier side of pop punk is represented on “Murder on my Mind” that tells the tale of Halloween night gone wrong. The Lillingtons show their appreciation of power pop and new wave on “Robots in my Dreams” and “Caveman.” These styles would certainly continue to be present on later albums in their discography.

It’s clear to understand why DEATH BY TELEVISION is held in such high regard in not only the pop punk scene, but in all of punk rock overall. The Lillingtons who were previously known as the forerunners of Ramonescore braved to incorporate outside influences. Everything from pop punk, punk rock, new wave, alternative, indie and even hints of heavy metal are present. This formula makes for one of the most honest and effective albums in the history of punk rock.