Compact Review: TV GIRL’s Who Really Cares

TV Girl- Who Really Cares
Released: February 26, 2016
Rating: 80/100

After a relationship ends there may come a time when you don’t really know how to feel. Maybe you’re done tearing up as you listen to Rilo Kiley’s “Does He Love You?”, but you’re not quite ready to triumphantly scream-sing “Since You Been Gone” in the car. The introspective but equally moody and blasé tracks on TV Girl’s latest effort Who Really Cares is the soundtrack for this space in between.

TV Girl describes their latest album as “An album about sex or lack thereof… And its consequences or lack thereof.” This shoulder shrug, sarcastic relationship mentality is part of TV Girl’s brand- the interplay between reflective lyrics, lush sixties dream pop and almost hip-hop meld together in an unexpectedly charming way. Think Phantogram x Cults with a dash of De La Soul.

Previous to the first promoted full length, French Exit, TV Girl released a handful of EPs, singles and records with Trung Ngo as lead singer. Ngo has since left the project, but TV Girl continues with band member Brad Petering at the helm. Through the transition, TV Girl retained the same style and sound. Who Really Cares parallels excellent singles released in years past such as “If You Want It (You Got It)” (which includes a perfectly placed Todd Rundgren sample- maybe my favorite mashup ever). However, Who Really Cares is different enough that it does not feel redundant.

The first track, “Taking What’s Not Yours,” is unavoidably a catchy standout. Lead singer/songwriter Brad Petering discusses permanently leaving items at a significant other’s house on accident and on purpose. “Ooh I still have everything you brought but you never took….You know where to find me/I know where to look”. Enter a chopped-up sample of Richard Nixon’s infamous “I am not a crook” line interspersed between the verse/chorus changeover. Nixon’s voice is the album’s first introduction to the band’s use of other captured, spoken phrases mixed over synth and drum machines which add layers to existing hooks.

Cheeky lines run throughout Who Really Cares and add to the breezy fun of the album despite its overall gloomy lyrical content. “Song About Me” is another super solid, ultra catchy track containing the back and forth exchange of a couple post-breakup. A verse from the female perspective is casually rapped by an artist listed in the liner notes as Maddie Acid whose addition to the track prevents it (and maybe the album overall) from venturing into overabundant sad-boy-whining-about-lost-love territory.

The album starts to lose a bit of momentum about half way through, though. The downtempo track “Safe Word” and the lazy jazz sound of “Loving Machine” seem slightly out of place and semi-haphazard. It’s clear that TV Girl handles shimmery, beat driven pop with much more skill.

Who Really Cares, like TV Girl’s other releases, is complex in its inclusion of different musical styles, but so, so satisfying. It’s an addictive album with lyrics that are at times truly hilarious but still hold a sense of detached melancholy. TV Girl manages to capture this relatable but difficult to describe post-relationship feeling of almost over it/not over it, and we knowingly nod our heads along to the beat.

You can buy TV Girl’s album Who Really Cares here on Bandcamp, listen to them on Spotify and check out their touring scheduling here. (For locals: Tv Girl plays the Trunk Space in Phoenix on April 2nd).

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