April 5, 2011

Album Review: TV on the Radio's Nine Types of Light

Our first glimpse into TV on the Radio's latest LP came in the tantric ballad, "Will Do." AwkwardSound noted how the song's theme surprisingly seemed overtly romantic and pedestrian for a band that has established itself on innovation more so than sexy choruses, but on Nine Types of Light, we find TV on the Radio reaching for the human touch in their sound. The Brooklyn rockers don't necessarily give up any of their ambitions along the way, but they also don't do much to improve upon them, either. Lead singer, Tunde Adebimpe, puts his heart out on display from the get-go with a threesome of tracks dictating self-reflection and regret ("Second Song," "Keep Your Heart," "You") swirling in a familiar cloth of synthetic sonics à la 2008's Dear Science, and marches forward until the very end in the album's symphonic centerpiece, "Killer Crane," the sexy Prince-like funk jam, "New Cannonball Run," and soulful "Forgotten."

Overall, Nine Types of Light is inoffensive and much lighter than TV on the Radio's past outputs, but the lyrical level of sentiment to which they rise here does create restriction. The quintet stylistically sound no better and no worse than prior efforts, which is a compliment, yet Nine Types of Light sounds awfully familiar, safe and with less attitude at that. Perhaps it's merely a sign of the times or general aging on TV on the Radio's part (the band's previous two efforts were spawned by firestorms in American politics, and so you can't hold it against them for switching up the message.) Nine Types of Light shows a cozy human side to TV on the Radio we often aren't privy to in their music. Let's just hope they don't let their heavy hearts stop them from moving forward altogether.

TV on the Radio's Nine Types of Light will be released April 12, 2011 on Interscope Records.

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