PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Restiform Bodies: TV Loves You Back

Turns out TV and consumerism are bad. In one way or another. Thanks, Restiform Bodies.

Restiform Bodies

TV Loves You Back

Label: Anticon
US Release Date: 2008-09-30
UK Release Date: Available as import

Restiform Bodies don't like American consumer culture. That fact becomes apparent pretty early on their new record, the sarcastically titled TV Loves You Back. The off-kilter hip-hop group takes ten tracks to tell us what we already know. TV is bad. A consumer culture is, well, against the consumer. We're all being made to buy things we don't need and value things -- shown to us on television, apparently -- that are inherently valueless. All so some nameless, faceless, power-wielding being can make some money.

If that all sounds vague, it's because the complaints Restiform Bodies proffers on their new album are just that. Too bad, really, because musically they are anything but vague. The music on TV Loves You Back is energetically scatterbrained. Opener "Black Friday" shifts from one disparate beat to another, speeding up and slowing down tempo what seems like a dozen times in just three minutes. Throughout the record, the group deftly meshes harsh and unadorned hip-hop beats with warmer elements of electronica. "Pick It Up, Drop It" samples clips of violin, mixes them with a fuzzed-out sythesized bass, and lays them over a simple old school beat. "Ameriscan" builds itself over an electronic drone, slowly and more insistently than any other track on the record.

But musically none of the songs sit still very long. They hook you in long enough to make you comfortable and then flip the track into something totally different. It's a compelling sleight of hand. Too bad they can't switch topics and moods as quickly with their lyrics. Songs like "Black Friday" and "Consumer Culture Wave" seem to both condemn the culture around us, and condemn us as individuals for participating. It might start as juxtaposition, but it quickly becomes muddled contradiction. Are we the QVC-hooked hollow heads from a track like "Panic Shopper"? Or are we the doves they sing about, tragically turned to pigeons when surrounded by overbuilt and ugly cities. Could we be both? Sure. But Restiform Bodies don't explore that duplicity, and instead reserve as much scorn for the individual as they do for the culture.

And when they're not condemning consumers that, they seem to imply, are too dumb to know better than to buy stuff, the group take faulty aim at sexual politics. "Pimp-like God" tackles the well-run-dry topic that is marrying for money. And "Foul" starts with the line "My dick get dizzy like a busy bayonet" which, joke or not, sarcastic or straightforward, is one of the worst lines you'll hear in a hip-hop song all year.

Despite its musical strengths, TV Loves You Back never comes to much more than a lot of aimless whining. Restiform Bodies also conveniently exclude themselves from a culture that, judging from the level of attention they seem to pay it and the frustration they feel, they are very much a part of. The album consistently shoots for aloof sarcasm and irony, attempting to send up TV culture as something silly that shouldn't have the power it does. The problem is, anyone with a pulse already knows this. And TV Loves You Back does little, if anything, to shed new light on the subject, making Restiform Bodies come off not as clever and thoughtful -- which is clearly their aim -- but instead as pretentious.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.