Touch And Go Records
Dear Science, Thank You.
With their latest release, Dear Science, TV On the Radio has solidified themselves in the hearts and minds of music fans. I would have added the word "everywhere" to the end of that sentence, but well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This record is interesting, dynamic, and fun. Basically, everything that of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping wasn't, so for that, I can applaud them. For all that Dear Science lacks in unnecessary flamboyancy though, it makes up for in musical sensibility, and awareness. Unlike many other acts that get by on the shock and awe tactic of "hey, if you thought that was wacky, just wait until you here this", TV On the Radio is well-versed in its limitations, and is not afraid to stay within them while still producing a new and original sound.
To start, "Halfway Home" is a stellar opener. It, as is the case with the beginning of most records I've reviewed recently, sets you up for what's to come. It's a prelude, a sampling of the intelligent and psychadelic noise to follow. What also seems to amaze me is how soon you can travel from the beginning to the first single, "Golden Age", which is the fifth song on the album. Though, according to Itunes, not the most popular song, this one, especially accompanied with video, seems to really display the full range of talents this Brooklyn-based group possesses. From pop sensibilities, to funk, to indie rock, it jumps around genres better than anything I've heard in quite awhile. See "Family Tree"- a dead-ringer for a Coldplay song- as evidence.
For the remainder of the record, expect more of the same. Once lead singer Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone finish up the aforementioned lost track from Viva La Vida Or Death and All His Friends, you literally bounce into what sounds like a mix of Gnarls Barkley, Jamiroquai, and Portugal. The Man, among others, in "Red Dress". On a personal note, I could have seen these guys here at Syracuse University about two years ago, but did not feel like wasting money on lead act, Rhianna, at the time. I'm sure you can all understand why that is.
So, to recap: Dear Science sounds like Gnarls Barkley, of Montreal, Jamiroquai, Portugal. The Man, Radiohead, Coldplay, Wolf Parade, and countless others. It's a spectacular trip through genre-bending riffs, soaring vocals, and a ton of get-up-and-dance beats. It's possibly the most entertaining album of the year after Girl Talk's Feed the Animals (note that most entertaining does not necessarily denote best). As I'm listening to it again right now, I'm hearing Lenny Kravitz, Foo Fighters, and some of The Roots on "Shout Me Out". Besides setting a record for most references to other bands in one post, this record has tripped its way to my best of 2008 list. For those looking for specific tunes, over the album as a whole, please see the previously-discussed "Golden Age" and "Family Tree", as well as "Lover's Day".
Rating: 8/10; Great for parties, sing-alongs, or just plain relaxing. I'm still impressed by the varying dynamics of this record.