Thomas Conway – Indy Writer
In the spirit of springtime, I’ve chosen the sunny, SoCal sound of TV Girl for this edition of the Indy Artist Profile. While their music makes it easy to imagine yourself strolling down a Los Angeles boulevard, their lyrics are occasionally cynical and often mired in relationship clichés.
TV Girl is a bit of an enigma for me. I find myself drawn to their music above all else. Their compositions come across as fresh. Their particular style could only come out of the late 2010’s. TV Girl seamlessly combines early 90’s hip-hop beats, atmospheric synthesizers, tasteful samples, guitar, and deadpan pop vocals to create an appealing sonic fingerprint. Despite their seemingly unique and current sound, certain passages sound akin to the breezy, hip-hop oriented pop songs of the 90’s. Sublime (“Scarlet Begonias” and “What I Got”) and Sugar Ray (“Fly”) both come to mind as possible influences. Many of their songs also have a retro sheen about them. It’s as if a few guys from 2010 went back in time with a sampler and some shiny new synthesizers and tried to record music in 1968. All of that comes together to create a sound that is simultaneously familiar and new.
Unfortunately, their lyricism doesn’t match the intriguing nature of their music. Failed (or failing) love affairs are their primary subject matter. And if I had a dollar for every time cigarettes come up in their songs (one song is titled “She Smokes in Bed”, another is “Cigarettes out the Window”) I could probably buy their whole discography, legally. These songwriting cop outs can be discouraging, off-putting, even; but I think it works for them. TV Girl is not Radiohead or Arcade Fire. They aren’t here to change the face of music. Rather, they make carefree music both in sound and in lyrical content. Their beats convey the ease of summer, and their lyrics are overwhelmingly about surface-level relationship garbage. Now, it may sound like I am trashing the very band I’m trying to promote. Hear me out, though, because I think this kind of band is exactly what overworked and overstressed college students need: a beautiful distraction from monotony, the antithesis to classes and endless reading. Instead, TV Girl gives us something simpler: cynical romantic shenanigans wrapped in a gorgeous musical package. On that note, I’ll get off my soapbox and get to the actual artist profile.
TV Girl gained prominence in 2010 with the Todd Rundgren-sampling “If You Want It (You Got It),” which caught the attention of bloggers. Following that attention, the song was promptly removed from all major publications and YouTube because (obviously) you can’t blatantly sample “Hello It’s Me,” which was a number one hit in 1968, and not anger the major label gods. Three illegal-sample-heavy mixtapes followed their initial internet hit, which are all available as one free download on their bandcamp. Their first official album is titled French Exit (2014). It introduces TV Girl’s current style, which is less dependent on illegal samples. There are certainly still samples, but they aren’t ripped from classic songs. This less distracting approach strengthens TV Girl’s own sound. “Birds Don’t Sing” is especially noteworthy in that it displays TV Girl’s lyrical cynicism and bright, sunny music working in perfect harmony. It is the strongest track on the album and arguably their best song overall. If you choose to listen to one song by TV Girl, I highly recommend that one. Their second studio album, cynically named Who Really Cares, came out recently (February 26th, 2016). The album has some impressive tracks (“Taking What’s Not Yours,” “(Do The) Act Like You Never Met Me”) but is, honestly, their weakest release to date. Both studio albums are available on Spotify and other streaming sites. While it seems like TV Girl is on way down, they have accumulated enough enjoyable music over the last 6 years that they are still worth checking out, especially if you’re looking for
some upbeat music to soundtrack spring’s arrival.