TV On The Radio : New Health Rock
News just in: Brooklyn fuzz-rockers find cure for Chart Cancer
It’s 6am in the Boom Boom Room – the private booteh claawb in Big Boi from OutKast’s basement – and The Fear is setting in. The laydeez have all zipped up their leopard-print thongs and gone home, the carpet’s sticky with spilt Hennessey and Andre 3000 sits clutching his knees on the stage – twitchy-cheeked, scratching his fingernails raw on the lino and slowly beating his head against the stripper’s pole. And so begins the new TV On The Radio single: four minutes 40 of ants-in-yer-veins paranoia, serrated guitar tension, urban joyride techno-blips, drums that sound like someone kicking their way out of a padded cell and mad, demonic banshee-Nelly voices in your head telling you “If you don’t go now/Then you might not NEVAAAHH!!” Nurse! The tongue restraints! GMMMMPHHHH!
Now, production credits with Liars and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs plus a drummer that sounds like a drum machine plus krautpop leanings plus bald member should, according to all natural laws of rockular physics, equal the punk-funk Garbage. But Brooklyn’s TV On The Radio offer something far more chilling and sinister than a ginger Scotswoman fallen headfirst into a bucket of eyeliner. On ‘New Health Rock’ they float Joy Division-shaped thunderclouds over a P-funk beach barbecue, creating a thumbscrew uneasiness through the ominous triptych of Curtis, Kraftwerk and, um, Kool & The Gang. Add the fact that singer Tunde Adebimpe’s hair looks as if it’s about to leap off his head and claw your face off and Kyp Malone’s backing vocals sound like Prince deformed by helium-lust into some sort of Gollum creature, and you’ve got a nail-gnawing, tongue-chewing, eyeball-spasming comedown classic; as razor-sharp as a sunlight in dilated pupils, as edgy as 11am raps on a pub front door, as ‘chilled’ as a cocaine heart attack, healthy as hypertension.