TC Superstar is group that came together in 2017 and is fronted by Connor McCampbell. There are a lot of other people in the band which includes. Julio Correa, LB Flett, Mitchell Webb, Francis Rodriguez, Emily DiFranco, Aaron Chavez and Yuriko Roby. In all honesty I can’t imagine you would need that many people in a band. Perhaps it’s more like a collective, sort of like Broken Social Scene. At any rate, whatever their process and whatever they are doing is working. Their album R&D is easily one of the more infectious and purely fun albums I have heard this year.
It’s also a concept that explores notions of love, romance and relationships through the lens of two characters, Ricky and Dana. Concept albums are hard to pull off but this story felt so seamless and relatable. The story is very human. If you have had a long term relationship I think you will be able to empathize.
Things open with “Dana Be Mine” which is synth pop with all the right influences. There is an ’80s feel to it not unlike bands like The Chromatics have embraced and it feels like a mix of bedroom aesthetics and live instrumentation. The hooks are the real deal here and after my second listen I was addicted. In fact, I would say this song has enough energy to dance to. It’s not as clubby sounding as bands like Cut Copy but it’s in the same arena.
“Something Real” brings to mind an artist like Majical Cloudz. It’s warm with slight melancholy but also just as catchy as anything else on the album. The title track revolves around airy synths, a deep kick and infectious vocals. That being said if you pay attention to the lyrics, it's a dark song about suicide. It’s also quite hopeful sounding at points.
Some of the other members contribute vocal harmonies on “Ricky Ruin Me.” It’s perfectly mixed to my ears. The male and female voices go together in a way that makes it sound androgynous. It’s also like the songs which came before which are wickedly catchy and fun.
As the songs progressed I found myself more immersed in the album. It’s a little hard to pick my go to highlights but I could listen repeatedly to “I've Been Thinking Bout You,” “Dana's Song” and the subdued dance number “Into You” which ends with a question mark as far as the relationship between the characters go.
I was worried this album was going to be too catchy. Sort of like how bubblegum loses it's flavor fast. That’s not the case here. The sturdy foundation of storytelling along with exceptional aesthetics choices make this an album I’m sure plenty of people revisit once they hear it. Highly recommended.
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