It took a listen and a half to decide that TV On The Radio's fourth album, Nine Types of Light, would be the best album released this year. Yes, I know that it's only the first week of April. I'm also well aware that several really spectacular albums have already come out this year, and several more are scheduled for release in the next eight months. The fact is, I'm pretty sure this race is over.
Monday, April 4, 2011
TV On The Radio - New Canonball Run
While anything could come out of left field, and despite just the greatness of the new Strokes and Foo Fighters albums, among others, this feels like Return to Cookie Mountain leaking eight months before it's actual release all over. I called it then, and I'm calling it now.
Dear Science, also known as album number three, was good. Something felt off, though. Like the boys from Brooklyn were trying to satisfy some kind of expectation. Here, it sounds as natural as Dave Sitek described the recording sessions to be in Rolling Stone.
I can't find anything bitter about this album, and that's even with tracks about break-ups. It's all love and rocking out, which is kind of reassuring. You can hear the band finding a nice, happy place and doing what they do with the slow and mid-tempo grooves and the horns and the falsetto. Oh, that falsetto - it has to be the best thing in rock and roll right now. And when it runs atop what has now become the expected TVOTR harmonies, everything seems perfect in the world.
If this is the sound of one of the most adventurous and singularly unique bands of the 21st century maturing, we're in for a ride.
Nine Types of Light has enough range in it to go from a spoken opening on "Second Song," and slow building of "Keep Your Heart" and "You." "No Future Shock" is the wake up call on the first half of the album begging listeners to "blow your top."
It's the second half of the album, starting with "New Canonball Run," that makes waves though. This track is the "Wolf Like Me" of Nine Types of Light, the one the band wants you screaming. "Repetition" works itself from completely still into a rolling frenzy that should work wonders in concert too. Maybe that's just cause I've found myself screaming at other cars while listening to it at red lights.
The last two tracks on the album, "Forgotten," which could be the not-so-distant cousin of the classic "Young Liars," and second single "Caffeinated Consciousness," a positively INXS-influenced song if ever I've heard one, are polar opposites that literally bring together everything perfect about this band.
There were points on Dear Science that felt like overreach and made one wonder if they had stretched as far as they could and each album thereafter would just be a reworking of parts. I hate to make the comparison, but think about this: Nine Types of Light is reassuring, because if Radiohead just wants to mess with our robotic heads (and The King of Limbs, at the very least, does that), TV On The Radio clearly just want us feel something. Album of the year is an understatement.
Pre-order a crazy awesome Nine Types of Light special edition directly from the band (there's also an iTunes link there), or grab the deluxe edition with three bonus tracks on mp3 from Shockhound.
Buy the rest of TV On The Radio's discography from Shockhound.