Under Review: TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light

Though they’re not a particularly mysterious band, TV On The Radio exist in a world all their own. They’ve undoubtedly followed the same ‘from humble roots’ path as countless artists before them and since, but their nearly instantaneous rise to indie rock royalty is something to behold. Less than ten years ago, the project was merely the bedroom recordings of singer/keyboardist Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist/producer David Sitek. In the following years, TV On The Radio fleshed out into a full band and has released album after eclectic album of positively unmistakable music. Back after a self-imposed yearlong hiatus (in which each member pursued his own peculiar muse), the group is back with their most concise album to date. Nine Types Of Light might be a relatively brief effort, but it’s certainly not lacking in any of the touchstones that endeared TV On The Radio to so many in such a short time. The guys sound refreshed and renewed, and the songs are just as strong.

Oddly enough, Nine Types Of Light begins with “Second Song,” a gradually-building piece that showcases all the new set has to offer. The crescendo to the song’s brassy conclusion is as thrilling as any of TV On The Radio’s characteristically bombastic album openers. The actual second song, guitarist Kyp Malone’s “Keep Your Heart,” is the first of several wistfully soulful numbers on the album. The song’s devotional refrain is genuinely heartwarming, establishing Nine Types Of Light as the decidedly human album from a group that alternately came across as robots or aliens. There’s a strong soul influence through most of Nine Types Of Light, especially on the harmony-soaked “Will Do” and “Killer Crane,” which features some unexpected flourishes (hello, banjo) in its dense mix.

As they take a new turn into more pensive territory, TV On The Radio haven’t forgotten the other hallmark of their music: relentless, post-apocalyptic funk rock. The upbeat moments on Nine Types Of Light blend seamlessly with their meditative counterparts. With “No Future Shock” toward the record’s beginning and “Repetition” and “Caffeinated Consciousness” toward the end, the guys haven’t skimped on packing each track with a thick buzz. Bassist Gerard Smith and drummer Jaleel Bunton are put through quite the workout, particularly on “Repetition,” which moves between a brisk shuffle, a tense pre-chorus and manic breakdown. It’s a testament to TV On The Radio’s individual and collective strengths that they can coax the best out of each member while still making music that’s inventive, accessible and pretty damn funky.

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~ by E. on April 18, 2011.

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