TV On The Radio

Nine Types Of Light

Written by: TL on 14/06/2011 23:22:21

Back at the end of 2008, several magazines joined in proclaming "Dear Science", the fourth album by Brooklyn art-rock outfit TV On The Radio, the very best album of the year. My guess is, that if they hadn't done that, our own PP wouldn't have bothered to cover it, nor would he have asked me to cover the follow up "Nine Types Of Light", which this review is about. Not so much because these albums aren't at all interesting, but more so because, judging from "Nine Types Of Light", my first TV On The Radio experience, the umbrella term rock only casts it shadow over a small part of what this band is about.

"Nine Types Of Light" is the last album involving bassist Gerard Smith, who died of lung cancer less than two months ago. On it TV On The Radio present a sound that, if called anything rock, I think should be called trip-rock, as the best way to explain it to a rock fan, I think would be to ask them to imagine the laid back experimentation of an alternative rock band like The National, and then introduce it to the cool, playful electronics of trip hop. Particularly the vocals of Tunde Adebimpe is reminiscent of The National's Matt Berninger when he sings in his deep voice, while it draws my thoughts all the way to Bee Gees when he raises up to a sharp falsetto. Regardless, if you're hip enought to be into bands like Yeasayer or LCD Soundsystem, those are probably the best comparisons, and if not, then imagining The National remixed with Gorillaz will also get you close.

Overall, "Nine Types Of Light" casts TV On The Radio as every bit the playful, experimental and versatile band they're hyped up to be, with horns, strings and electronics providing the music as often as conventional rock instruments do. With Adebimpe's voice taking centre stage, the expression is warm, mature and casual, and in general I'd say the album is a rather interesting listen. Mostly so in songs one, two and four, "Second Song", "Keep Your Heart" and "No Future Shock", in which things join together to make for the most memorable listens.

Other than that though, it is my impression that "Nine Types Of Light" stays an "interesting" record without ever appearing to me as a really "great" one. For that I just don't think the songs are consistently engaging enough. It's like they appeal too much to the intellect and too little to feelings or instinct. Whether that means "Nine Types Of Light" is a step down from "Dear Science", or just that calling "Dear Science" the best album of 2008 was bonkers in the first place, I can't really say, given that I haven't heard that record. One thing I know for sure though, is that while "Nine Types Of Light" is an intriguing listen, it won't even come near my nominations for best album of 2011


Download: No Future Shock, Keep Your Heart, Second Song
For The Fans Of: Yeasayer, LCD Soundsystem, imagining The National remixed with Gorillaz

Release Date 11.04.2011
Interscope Records

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