Archive for the ‘TV On The Radio’ Category

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light (Review)

April 29th, 2011 No comments

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

(4 Stars out of 5)

Admittedly, this is a difficult review to write. As has been reported in other venues, bassist Gerard Smith passed away from his battle with lung cancer.  Often is the case with musicians who die at an early age is that their deaths are much more tragic (from drugs, alcohol, suicide or accident). Here is a case of someone doing everything right in a band revolutionizing the sound of rock, soul and funk. In an era when bands have striated off in different directions, TV on the Radio is trying to bring these elements back where they belong.

TV on the Radio’s ‘Nine Types of Light’ is their most accessible album to date. A much ‘cleaner’ sounding album missing much of the fuzz from previous albums and in some ways their career seems to be going in the direction of David Byrne, going from a energetic art-punk career to a more vanilla but still acceptable pop sound.

Which is where preconceived notions can be fallible. When does TV on the Radio begin to sound like U2 and would I be saying this if this was a killer debut album by some no-name band?

With the circumstances of Gerard Smith fresh on my brain while strolling the city streets of Chicago, I began to reminisce by pulling out ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’, an album filled with energy.

I consider a song like ‘I Was A Lover’ beginning to write the next chapter after Prince. As I made my way through the tracks I forgot in this day of age how powerful this album was and I began to wonder why I have not returned to Cookie Mountain more often. It’s slightly crisp outer edges with the chewy chocolate chip center, both with dark and white chocolate in the middle.  Ok, I am getting ahead of myself.

Inevitably, as comparisons are made, the product in front of me is still solid from cover-to-cover.  ‘Second Song,’ sets the stage as one of those classic rock songs, mixing between an almost straight delivery and falsetto, the album is about love, the most overused, overwrought subject in the rock and roll encyclopedia and the band does not let anyone down with this album. If you took the lyrics and created a cloud, the word would be in 72 font.

Before you throw this in the garbage, TV on the Radio offers two compelling reasons to hold onto this: Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. Soul, soul and some more soul. We take away the fuzz, we make the sound cleaner and Adebimpe shines as one of the true crooners of the 21st Century. What separates them from many other lead singers these days is that they bring character to the songs, providing an essential warmth that can be enjoyed with a nice Pinot and the lights turned down. Maybe not first date material but perfect for that essential reminder when the kids are at the grandparents and need a little couples time.

While African or R&B might be common elements it reminds me more of some of those Peter Gabriel works of the late 80s and early 90s especially on ‘You’, it seems to get that perfect method of modern rock and soul.

Possibly one of the first ballads that I have enjoyed in years, ‘Killer Crane’ works with this beautiful organ reminiscent of John Paul Jones and banjo.

There are some more subtle moments such as ‘Forgotten’, the forgotten track on the album. The sleepy beginning builds into an opus, as Adebimpe purrs before mixing the falsetto shouts and horns explode into your eardrums.

What makes ‘TV on the Radio’ is their crossover appeal. While the album is solid, it lacks the shock of ‘Cookie Mountain’ and ‘Dear Science’ and while I do like the soulful albums about ‘Love’ the lyric can be overused here. Some might say that you cannot overuse the term but trust me, if every third sentence spewed out by your lover included ‘I Love You’ I would start to question what else love is about. It’s a word so powerful that said too early in a relationship can be a deal-breaker and never said enough can be a heart-breaker and said too much in a relationship can be a sanity breaker.

I look at “Light” in terms of “Love” in feeling illuminated. The forces that drive this feeling of love are often in the multiples and I question whether they are all present here. Even with it’s limits, the album still has enough substance to make it a worthy purchase.

Categories: Music, TV On The Radio Tags: