Finding a slot for TV on the Radio

By Mathew Bramlett |Staff Writer|

TV on the Radio’s new album can best be described as a record store’s worst nightmare.

It defies and defines conventional music genres at the drop of a hat, confounding people who try in vain to categorize and pinpoint their sound. Is it indie? Jazz? Post-funk? Neo-proto-soul with a twinge of post-artpunk?

Ridiculous labels aside, the truth is that TV On the Radio tend to exist on their own musical plateau. Their newest offering, Nine Types of Light, is a wonderful blend of groovy and infectious dance numbers that is guaranteed to get even the stiffest people on their feet.

The first song on the album, entitled “Second Song,” is a brilliant funksplosion complete with triumphant trumpets and a jazzy drum beat that holds the whole piece together. Singer Tunde Adebimpe sings impressively throughout the chaotic song, guiding the listener throughout.

Love and sensuality play a central part in the album’s lyrics. On “Keep Your Heart,” a tender tune and one of the better songs on the album, Tunde croons to his unnamed companion,“If the whole world falls apart, still I’m gonna keep your heart.”

The songs on the album effortlessly portray love for what it really is: beautiful, sensual, chaotic, and thunderous.

“Will Do,” the first single off the album and definitely the best one, is a warm and laid-back song with soulful sensibilities and an almost authoritarian command to get the listener moving. If this song doesn’t get your toe tapping, you probably don’t have a soul.

“New Cannonball Run,” which was obviously named after one of the greatest movies of all time, is a sassy little number that channels Prince in his heyday.

While some songs are lush and lovely, others crash through the brain like a runaway train. “No Future Shock” is a funky song with dystopian undertones that demands attention, mostly from the trumpets that blast throughout the tune.

While it is a very good album, Nine Types of Light doesn’t quite match up to the brilliance of their last album, Dear Science (And quite honestly, not a whole lot will). But it stands well on its own, and it seems destined to end up on the top 10 lists of numerous pretentious music publications at the end of the year.

In fact, it is interesting to note how “under the radar” this new album feels compared to the endless attention Dear Science received before and after its release. The lack of coverage and fanfare given to Nine Types of Light makes it seem more of a pleasant surprise, which helps with the overall feel of the album.

Nine Types of Light proves once again that TV On the Radio is perfectly content on doing their own thing in a music world that seems to become more homogeneous every day.

TV On the Radio may irritate those who want to categorize their original sound, but that very notion is what makes them so interesting.


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