Review: TC Superstar, As Seen on TV
Toxic media consumption and deflated millennial aspirations inform synth-pop troupe’s third LP
As TC Superstar's previous LP followed will-they-won't-they high school sweethearts, the Austin music/dance group's third album takes on a concept similarly steeped in American myth: the television. A Broadway-ready keyboard slide draws the curtains for self-referential opener "Always a Feeling." Vocalist/bandleader Connor McCampbell starts: "Superstar wakes up and turns on the TV." Exuberant group vocals and a chipper pace move the sometimes chilly synthwave into brighter, warmer, Seventies pop/rock territory.
In 2019, "Dana Be Mine" proved the project's capacity for songwriting hypnosis sans onstage dancers. As Seen on TV leaves no doubt on a front-loaded run, beginning with the wiry six-string staccato of "Waste My Time." The standout dazzles like Talking Heads under McCampbell's deep tone, continuing theatrical flair akin to the Lemon Twigs. In an album shimmying around the toxicity of media consumption, the clever take on phone addiction precedes a catchy listing of deflated millennial aspirations on "Be Like You." A 401(k), eye exam, and oil change are just out of reach, as are the pure joys of pre-streaming cable (on "Nothing to Believe In").
McCampbell's best satirizing sticks to his own generation's nostalgic desire for consumer comforts. In the album's downtempo second half, multi-character concepts wind semi-convoluted around past-gen corner office dreams. Side B's best moments abandon TV themes, following a devoted couple enduring the husband's terminal illness ("With You"). Bold swings – whether choreographic gestures, album concepts, or color schemes – serve TC Superstar well.