Album Review: TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light (Interscope)
They might have seemed worthy in the past, but the US art rockers are clearly having fun this time around…
Woody Allen once exclaimed: “Man consists of two parts, his body and his mind. Only the body has more fun.” It’s an observation that could easily apply to [a]TV On The Radio[/a]’s career. Yes, they make intelligent art-rock but… are they fun? “Of course they are,” we hear you cry. But hear us out. From their debut album, [b]‘Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes’[/b], to the outstanding success of [b]‘Dear Science’[/b] and subsequent elevation to major labeldom, many have fawned over their intricate musicianship but most have neglected to applaud how fucking groovy they are.
Come the end of their mammoth 2009 world tour, New York’s Most Forward Thinking Band (© every music critic since 2004) were fed up with being respectable, intellectual, high-brow rockers, and called a short hiatus to concentrate on their own fun side-projects. Singer-guitarist Kyp Malone made a raw garage record under the guise of Rain Machine; lead singer Tunde Adebimpe and bassist Gerard Smith teamed up for Fake Male Voice, and producer extraordinaire Dave Sitek moved into an LA home-cum-studio and collaborated with a plethora of hip-cool artists with the dance-pop project Maximum Balloon.
Recording in that same studio, TVOTR return revitalised from their separate ventures as much as from Sitek’s new recording techniques. [b]‘Keep Your Heart’[/b] stuns with a ‘[b]Graceland[/b]’-era [a]Paul Simon[/a] groove before dropping into a glorious space-age thrum, and [b]‘Will Do’[/b] is a ballad that positively glistens. Where [b]‘Dear Science’[/b] was laden with political rhetoric, and rightly so, coming out in the lead-up to the 2008 US elections, [b]‘Nine Types Of Light’[/b] picks its establishment targets more carefully. [b]‘No Future Shock’[/b] is a mirror reflecting disillusionment with the world’s corporate powerhouses.
It’s a fun, [a]LCD Soundsystem[/a]-akin haymaker straight in the face of money-hoarding fat cats – with Malone belting “the bastards broke the world”. The righteous good-times continue on [b]‘New Cannonball Blues’[/b], the most glaring example of a Maximum Balloon influence, and the refreshingly dumb, post-rock joy of [b]‘Repetition’[/b]. The most triumphant achievement lies in the dramatic whistle-pop of [b]‘Forgotten’[/b]; a song that delves deep into the esoteric Beverly Hills culture. [b]‘Nine Types…’[/b] will make those who over-contextualise TVOTR finally quit their chin-stroking and live a little. This really is the most fun you can have without laughing.