TV on the Radio – Dear Science
Record Label: DGC / Interscope
Release Date: September 23, 2008
After an album like Return to Cookie Mountain, it’s gonna be pretty hard to make an artistic statement to top it. That album was as hauntingly beautiful as it was over the top and goofy, based around the voice as an instrument. And so, since TV on the Radio have already given us the genre of Acapella-Core, there can’t be much more for them to do than that, right? Why even listen to the new album?
I’ll tell you why: because some people just got it, and TV on the Radio is one of those groups. How did Pink Floyd follow up Dark Side of the Moon? They made Wish You Were Here! There ain’t no quantitative limit on genius, and it’s beginning to look like TV on the Radio will be around for quite a while. At least, we’ve all got out fingers crossed.
On first listen, Dear Science will sound less overwhelmingly strange than its predecessor (there’s no way you could ever top the bizarre opening of “I Was a Lover”), but trust me: the album is anything but normal. The weirdo production is still there, right from the opening of the first track “Halfway Home”, whose Beach Boys vocal melody introduce the mile-away guitars and the barrage of handclaps to come. Falsetto is still the expression of choice. Percussion is still a heavy guiding force. And TV on the Radio still sounds like nobody else out there.
Of course, I’m not going to judge the album only by how weird it is, because that would leave out the “ridiculously catchy” element that’s so huge in every one of these songs. Doesn’t matter if the album adopts a dancier feel than Cookie Mountain, and generally feels a whole lot less ‘bare-bones’. Doesn’t matter if Tunde Adebimpe is … rapping? (“Dancing Choose”.) It all works really, really well. It’s the way this stuff is layered that makes it so amazing – something that will remind the listener of Beck tracks like “Cellphone’s Dead”. A million little tiny touches make one really big track.
So, TV on the Radio have progressed forward pretty logically. They haven’t forsaken fans of either of their older albums, but they haven’t rehashed anything either. Dear Science is a creative and ingenious album from a creative and ingenious band. My only complaint is that now I have to wait two years for the next one to come out.
Don’t Believe Me? www.myspace.com/tvontheradio
Recommended If You Like:
TV on the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain, Beck, the Flaming Lips
I first heard about the album through Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media, and acquired it about a day later. The production is incredibly skillful in the way that In Rainbows by Radiohead was, the musicianship is crisp and refreshing, and the vocals are passionately honest. The album mixes elements of everything from classic rock, 80's hip hop, jazz, soul, funk, and alternative to create a fun, and interesting listen.