Album: TV Eyes

Artist: TV Eyes

Label: Omnivore Recordings

Release Date: October 07, 2014

TV eyes 10-7


Jellyfish fans can be obsessive – after all, the much-beloved pop group made only two records, so you can forgive us for following every move made by its ex-members, particularly first album guitarist Jason Falkner, the most visible solo artist, and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., a prolific session keyboardist. That said, TV Eyes – Falkner, Manning and ex-Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell, who all shared the stage as members of Air’s touring group – might well have slipped under the diehards’ radar. Even if fans were aware of its existence, the Japan-only release of the trio’s 2000 recordings (six years after the fact) likely stymied efforts to add to the collection, and the band performing only three gigs during its existence didn’t help. So Omnivore’s release of TV Eyes – the band’s self-titled album joined by the 2008 Softcore remix EP and a white label American single – should be most welcome.

That is, if fanatics can get past the fact that the music sounds little like Jellyfish. Abandoning both the ‘60s/’70s pop that informs Falkner and Manning’s solo work and the atmospheric electronica the trio played with Air, TV Eyes jumps with both feet into the neo-synth pop pool. Sounding not just like it’s drawing on the sounds of the early 80s, but like it’s an actual relic from that era, TV Eyes puts Falkner’s vocals and guitar over a variety of danceable grooves beaten and synthesized by Reitzell and Manning. It’s a simple sonic stance, but it works for the same reasons Jellyfish and the musicians’ solo albums work: strong melodies and excellent songs.

“She’s a Study,” “Fascinating” and “Love to Need” pay tribute to the women who turn our heroes’ heads, while “Mission: Submission” and “The Party’s Over” wax political with equal success. “What She Said” adds some spoken word to the mix, while “Time’s Up” indulges in purely electronic instrumentalism, like something composed for a Tron movie but rejected for having too much melodic backbone. The frisky drumming, glossy synth beds and meaty guitar chords come together for textures instantly familiar to early new wave fans, but sound fresh in the hands of these pop veterans. Even the remixes work, being more than just dancefloor fodder – Reitzell’s rejiggering of “Time’s Up” emphasizes the guitar and gives the song a dark, menacing air.

Nicely packaged, with insightful (if brief) Falkner liner notes, TV Eyes is that rare archival release that’s as relevant as any newly created work. Scratch that collector’s itch, then sit back and enjoy the music.

DOWNLOAD: “She’s a Study,” “The Party’s Over,” “Time’s Up (Brian Reitzell remix)”



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