Review: TV on the Radio’s Nine Types of Light

TV on the Radio“It might be impractical to seek out a new romance, we won’t know the actual if we never take the chance, I’d like to collapse with you and ease you against this song, I think we’re compatible, I see that you think I’m wrong, but, anytime will do my love.”
Will Do, TV on the Radio

Whether you’re new to TV on the Radio or a regular listener, their fourth studio album Nine Types of Light has so many kinds of shine to it that it is hard to imagine someone not being dazzled by one or more tracks. And with an ambitious music movie video to accompany the entire album, you can see for yourself how TV on the Radio spent its time after the release of Dear Science.

In 2009 this Brooklyn-based band announced they were going on hiatus for a year. Yet the hiatus lasted no longer than a scant six months. They migrated from Touch and Go to Interscope records, and made a scene change from Brooklyn to L.A. Then TV on the Radio got busy making a new album. And you can hear a little of L.A.’s influence on the band in tracks like Forgotten where they not so subtly mention Beverly Hills and its peculiar fashions. More L.A. lifestyle references can be found in the music video for Forgotten.

And who doesn’t love Onion-esque headlines like the one below: “Are we over yet? And were we ever here to begin with? Who’s asking and who’s telling? Nobody that’s who. The collective faceless know nothing at all!” Clearly the band has a twisted sense of humor.

Second Song kicks off the album with a hint of melancholy, but soon breaks into an upbeat groove with hypnotic falsettos that just make you want to dance no matter where you are: be it in line at your favorite coffee place, stuck in your car at light, going up and down stairs on your way in and out of a parking garages, or making a Thai curry dinner. I defy you, future listener, to not move your ass and shake your shoulders in some kind of rhythmic synchronicity when listening to Second Song. If you can resist the pull you need to see a cardiologist stat as you’ve probably flat lined and are in need of immediate medical attention.

The second track on the album is aptly titled. Keep Your Heart is a crooning bit of balladry even if the musical nature of the track is down trodden. If nothing it makes a single resolution: “if the world all falls apart, I’m going to keep your heart.” Plus the loops and synths in the background give you that feel like meteors are falling in the background.

You retains many of the lovesick qualities of Keep Your Heart, but it has more upbeat synths. And the track invokes the musical influence of Prince, or “The Artist Formally Known As,” if you go by the band’s round robin discussion as seen in the music video. Other scenes from the music video include shots of Tunde Adebimpe in a familiar shade of purple as he preoccupies himself with a white bird. A dove, perhaps? But you get the feeling it’s all done in good fun as Adebimpe earnestly informs his band mates that fans are supposed to see his symbol and just know what it means.

No Future Shock sounds like it could have been on Dear Science next to the likes of Dancing to Choose, but No Future Shock makes a nice noisy addition to what is quintessentially a torchlight album. With twisted lyrics and a video to match it is only too easy to “Drop and bounce. And shake it, shake it like it is the end of time.”

Killer Crane is atmospheric, evocative, and employs the use of banjoes to pluck at your heartstrings. Is it any wonder that the overall effect feels as though you’re sitting by a lake watching a sunset?

But not all songs are ethereal as some tracks get down right guttural. New Cannonball Blues commands you to “sing it with me like it’s your own, it’s got me fucked up, and dried up, and fed up, and get up, and bleeding, and cryin’ like I’m mad at the song,” while Will Do promises that when said love is ready to return “anytime will do.” And with the dreamy music box quality and smooth lyrical nature of the latter, you do want to believe that any time will be the right time.

And if you can tell the difference between Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone as vocalists you’ll appreciate the subtle switch between the two throughout tracks like New Cannonball Blues and All Falls Down. (Here’s a hint: Kyp Malone lisps more than Tunde Adebimpe.)

Lest all this lover’s angst become too much for your weary heart, worry not, there are high-energy tracks like Repetition and Caffeinated Consciousness.

Caffeinated Consciousness has a nice aural set of notes layered under vocals and other instrumentals, but if you listen closely these notes are in the background helping to build on that ecstatic energy before the lyrics kick into their chorus lines.

Repetition has a punk feel to it as its lyrical hook goes full throttle into: “my repetition, my repetition is this, my repetition, my repetition is this, my repetition, my repetition is this, my repetition, my repetition is this…”

(Lather, rinse and repeat.)

Music Movie Video for the album Nine Types of Light

And in other news – it was announced by TV on the Radio that their bassist Gerard Smith lost his battle with lung cancer on April 20th. Smith was instrumental to the band’s albums Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science, and Nine Types of Light. Read one of the better obituaries for Smith here.

Also, check up on TV on the Radio’s comprehensive website here.

(c) Helen Grant All rights reserved. Contact Helen through the emailz.

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