Cris had been telling me to listen to TV On The Radio for a number of months. I never really got around to it. Why? I'm going to blame it on all the music magazines that I read. Whenever I read anything about them, they were always described as "weird", "odd", or another word that means the same thing. There was talk of them bringing this music from their home planet...and so on, and so forth.
I don't like listening to music just because it's weird. In fact, that's one of the main reasons why I don't like The Flaming Lips. I want to like music because it's good, not because it's weird.
Here's a scenario that is basically the same thing as liking music because it's weird:
I go to an art museum. I see a piece of art. I don't really think it looks that good. I can't really tell what's going on in the painting. But it's displayed somewhere prominent, and a lot of people have been talking about it. There's not really anything that I like about it...but it's different. It's odd. That means it must be good. If I don't understand it, there must be something really good to it that I'm not getting. Why else would people like it? Why else would there be a special exhibit for that artist? So I'll pretend that I understand the deep meaning of the painting, when really there's nothing to get.
That's what I see happening more and more in music. A strange new band comes out. Screeching guitars over an out-of-tune bass over a completely out-of-rhythm drummer. 3 people are singing at the same time. They're not singing in the same key. Nothing about it sounds good. Yet people love them. Why? Because it's different. "If other people like it, so will I, even if I don't understand what's even close to tolerable about them."
(This rant is getting long, and I apologize.)
That's what I thought would happen with TV On The Radio. Just another band trying to be different to get some publicity.
Thankfully, that's not what they are, and that's not what they're about.
This album is one of the more creative albums to come out this year. There are an absolute ton of influences and instruments present here, and for them to be able to mix them all together as well as they have here...well, it's just astounding.
The atmosphere of this album is what really blew me away. I haven't really heard guitar like this since My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. There's a depth and beauty to the fullness of their guitars that seems almost other-worldly. It seems the most present on "Province", a gorgeous song that builds to a huge chorus, courtesy of those swelling guitars and the vocals of Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, and David Bowie.
The quasi-hip-hop/dance of "I Was a Lover" gives way to the droning, almost tribal "Hours", which rolls into the skittering "Playhouses", which is followed by the drums-in-the-front rock approach of "Wolf Like Me" (one of the catchiest songs on the album), which flows into the minimalist "A Method"...and on and on we go.
The dual-vocal approach of the deeper voiced Tunde Adebimpe mixed with the high falsetto-ish voice of Kyp Malone works wonderfully. Creepy and beautiful at the same time.
If you're looking for something that is simultaneously creative and accessible, this is the album for you. It really is remarkable.
Essential Tracks: "I Was a Lover", "Hours", "A Method"
Favorite Tracks: "Province", "Wolf Like Me"