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TV Girl's album 'French Exit' bears test of time, inspiring modern DIY artists

With its unique style and songwriting, TV Girl's 2014 indie-pop album "French Exit" serves as a testament to the band's creative freedom and do-it-yourself spirit. – Photo by TV Girl / Twitter

Since its formation in 2010, American indie-pop band TV Girl occupies a fascinating sector of the indie music scene.

While the band's not as universally popular as defining artists of the genre like Mac DeMarco, its 2014 album "French Exit" helped pave the way for other artists in its field to experiment with song structure and production choices. The album also helped set a consistent standard for its future releases and is one of the most focused indie-pop albums of the past decade.

While most independent artists write primarily using guitar and other synthesized instruments, TV Girl’s use of samples makes "French Exit" inherently inspired by hip-hop.

The band consistently sampled melodies and clips from 1960s music and television in its songs, and it uses the sample to create its own unique and modern twist. 

Its production style feels professional, but their music's most important element is how it lacks a commercially pop sound. Especially in indie music, a common staple is creating songs that are either self-produced and maintain creative integrity or having a more professional sound that can feel watered down.

But throughout "French Exit" and the band's entire discography, there's a balance of these two extremes in a very rare way, and that causes all of the band's songs to feel uniquely theirs. In finding its artistic identity, it reinforces itself by its talent and musical choices.

Nostalgia is an important factor of the album’s themes and visual style. The cover art features a couple embracing in a hug, but the moment feels both fleeting and visually striking. The color grading is reminiscent of 1960s pop artist Andy Warhol’s work, and the bold use of primary colors make the album cover feel both supercharged and muted.

In “Birds Don’t Sing,” the track features multiple instruments to create a layered and textured instrumental sound. Different vocal harmonies and synth lines enter and leave the song in a very free-form way, and this constant variation keeps the song interesting and fun to listen to.

Meanwhile, drums keep the groove alive, allowing the track to have constant variation without having to change the chord progression or introduce a new musical section. The song also samples the melody from the Poni-Tails’ 1958 song, “Seven Minutes in Heaven.”

Daughter of a Cop” is a stellar example of how lyrics serve a purposeful intent in TV Girl songs. While this song is not as layered instrumentally as "Birds Don’t Sing," each sound is essential to the song’s structure and feeling.

The drums have a slight echo on them, which causes the song to feel both relaxed, yet alive. The sparse production forces the listener to focus on the lyrics, which are vivid and specific. 

The lyrics follow themes of youthful energy and love but also acknowledge the danger of engaging in impulsive decisions. TV Girl's lead singer, Brad Petering, sings, “Sneaking the pillow under the sheets/I know a place where everyone meets/But she knows a place/Where the cops don't go/And she'd be the one if anyone knows."

Anjela” is the closer of the album and is a concise encapsulation of TV Girl's unique songwriting style. The acoustic guitars and percussion sounds throughout the track allow it to maintain an energetic flow, and this makes the message in the song relatable and easy to understand.

TV Girl’s ethos is entranced in youthful romance, and its music brilliantly compliments its songwriting talent and creative vision.

"French Exit" was self-released, so TV Girl owns its masters, which gives it full creative freedom over its music. Its unique approach to songwriting and production choices is a staple of its musical identity, and "French Exit" remains an important release in the indie-pop genre and a fan favorite among TV Girl fans.

Its continued success is inspiring for musicians who utilize a do-it-yourself approach, serving as an inspiration for artists and producers alike.

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