TV on the Radio Progresses on ‘Science’
TV on the Radio is the kind of band that continually embraces a very experimental nature. Each track is a cohesive exploration of sound and harmony, a sign that the band continues to seamlessly transcend genres and styles.
Its new album, “Dear Science,” is no exception to this already established impression, showcasing this collection of bandmates at their most creative to date.
The band has come a long way since frontman Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist David Andrew Sitek’s self-released demo, “OK Calculator,” an obvious pun on a Radiohead favorite “OK Computer.” “Dear Science,” is the follow-up release to its 2006 celebrated epic, “Return to Cookie Mountain.” With the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitarist, Nick Zinner and the omniscient David Bowie adorning the band’s various projects, much was expected from the new album.
Already it looks like TV on the Radio has delivered, ten-fold. The album is as deliberately creative as the last, and media outlets are already heralding its greatness. Viral news spreading through the information super highway might have leaked the album weeks before its official release last Tuesday. Nevertheless, for a band more concerned with its music than anything corporate or label related, the reception of the album is all that matters.
Metacritic has already awarded the New York-based band a score of 90 out of 100 for this newest discography addition. Across the board publications like “The Los Angeles Times,” “Entertainment Weekly,” “Spin” and the very necessary online outlet, Pitchfork, have given it an A for “absolutely astonishing.”
From the very beginning, “Halfway Home” starts things off with an already infectious and subtly danceable beat. Adebimpe’s voice flows calmly and smoothly over the hyperactive instrumental background. Already the genre leaps are evident. A bit of overall shoegaze, a hint in the backup of 1950’s pop and a rush of Velvet Underground’s art rock, the track fills the ears, mind and soul.
The track pushes forward, closing with a whirlwind of sound. The signature vocals and instrumentals juxtaposing one another in an oxymoronic harmony of perfection lets us know that the rest of the album is going to be just as great of a ride.
“Dancing Choose” is none other than a rap embedded in a cesspool of campy electronic, big band, hip hop, funk and downright rock ‘n roll. A delicately plucked guitar bases the track and matures with a fanfare of trumpets ringing behind long-winded lyrical expressions. A prominent criticism on popular culture, the track delves into a mesh of today’s society and ends with an air-pounding fist of agreement.
The album does pause for the occasional ballad, but not one without keyboard chords of hope and droning violins. Smack in the middle comes “Family Tree,” a much softer track than the rest. Delivering this recess from the high energy starter tracks, the band seems to have dealt this track at a good place.
The album then flows into a mélange of distinct genres. “Red Dress” maintains a touch of funk in its guitar licks with a touch of gospel callbacks thrown throughout the track. “Lover’s Day” closes the album with a bittersweet and underlying pain-riddled call out to love. An anthem for the emotion of love, stream of consciousness lyrics bustle through to an ultimately feel- good close.
Long, symphonic tirades of sound run rampant throughout the record. Stylistically, TV on the Radio is always abreast with newness as it continually transcends genres. “Dear Science,” is yet another creative effort by one of the most original bands of this generation.