TLC

They've updated their socials with FanMail 25th Anniversary images. Hopefully something is coming to celebrate it this year.

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Those Unpretty and Dear Lie single covers take me right back as it was so difficult to find images of the girls at the time in magazines, so I had them taped to my bedroom wall as if they were posters.
I improvised too and cut out giant letters T L C from tinfoil and put them up on my wall….which kind of fitted with their aesthetic at the time!
At least the Fanmail album came with the cool holographic cover and an actual poster inside it.
 
I'm spinning Fanmail after its anniversary and all this chatter. It's an album I have a deep emotional connection too because me and my best friend at York Uni used to listen to it all the time while indulging in substances and having "fun". I remember one of the first conversations we ever had was about Mariah deep cuts and TLC and his love of I'm Good at Being Bad. We definitely danced to that song on repeat in my messy room many times. I look back on those times so fondly. If we ever run away and elope it'll be the first dance at our wedding.

As an album, I definitely dont think it's perfect by any means, the mix of future-R&B and indie folk doesn't quite land, and it could definitely do with being trimmed down a little, and the track list is literally all of over the place and not in a good way. But having said that it just feels like an album only TLC could make. I mean going from ethereal UK garage bops about modern loneliness (my personal favourite TLC song, Fanmail), to top tier turn of the century bubblegum R&B (of course still with that signature sass) to Latin meets Hip-Hop combo's, to Nirvana inspired Donna Summer sampling bad-gal anthems and Dianne Warren penned country ballads about blow jobs? Like... who the fuck would be daring enough to try and piece that together and actually make it work other than TLC? It's juxtaposition is almost a strength in that it's not afraid to just go there.

I think the magic of TLC was that it was three incredibly strong, yet deeply conflicting and complicated woman clashing and confiding in each other in equal measure. Like, the stories about the making of this album are just insane and I fully believe that the animosity between them at this point meant that even getting this thing out was a miracle. I have no doubt they were "difficult", fighting one minute and all over each other the next, butting heads with everyone around them and only wanted to work on the album under specific conditions and would storm out/give up when they weren't met but like, isn't every decent artist like that? At least they were passionate.

People throw around the word "real" a lot but I think TLC are one of the only groups it can be truly applied too. They were three black women in their twenties working through their demons in public and dealing with the fuckery of the industry at the same time and I think its credit too them they didn't let this completely destroy them, and let this chaos come into the sound of this album with no real filter.

I think its roughness is a bit part of its charm, and its "future" moments were literally decades ahead of their time. Its unchosiveness perfectly sums up the experience of navigating challenging shit and trying to somehow keep it together and stick to your guns at the same time. It's a very worthy climax to a true golden trilogy of girl-group albums. Lisa was on fire with her raps this era (if you could get her to show up) and they perfectly add to the storm, and sum it up as a chaotic, yes, but extremely endearing and ambitious swansong to one of the most legendary groups of all time.
 
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