Monday, October 06, 2008

TV On The Radio - Dear Science

Brooklyn has been the center of attention in music for the last few months, with the likes of MGMT, Vampire Weekend or High Places now appearing everywhere, but let's not forget that some other local heroes have been around for longer and didn't benefit from being part of any hype scene, basing their rise to stardom and critical-acclaim purely on their own brilliance. TV On The Radio are one of those cases, already with 3 albums in their catalogue. From 2004, "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" was an avant-garde and very personal take into the post-punk revival happening during that time, but it was with the post-apocalyptic masterpiece "Return to Cookie Mountain", from 2006, that things really exploded, that record still being considered one of the best rock albums of the decade. And now, with so many people currently looking at their home town Brooklyn to find the latest trends of the moment in music, what next for TVOTR? "Dear Science", their third album, starts in familiar territory, with a powerful epic evoking a post-apocalypse world that couldn't have a more-appropriate title ("Halfway Home"). But two songs in, and things couldn't get more different, and this sentiment actually prevails until the very end. No, they are not returning home, they are instead eager to explore brand-new territories, keeping their curiosity and sense of adventure intact. So this time we're not talking about the end of the world, at least not explicitly. Instead, things are much more slowed-down, the sound is less heavier, as if they had let some bright lights in, influences have broaden (Prince and Fela Kuti now seem to be around some corners) and, most important of all, the atmosphere is generally much more pop-oriented, while multiple layers reveal new details in each track and with each new listen. An example of this new lighter approach comes with "Family Tree", a beautiful piece built around just a voice, keyboards and strings for the most part of it, until the rhythmic section finally erupts, sending goosebumps on its way. And like this, there are much more examples showing how unique everything is in terms of writing, performance, arrangements and production (David Sitek doing miracles in here once again). In the meantime, while each song explores a different and individual universe, everything still sounds very much like TVOTR, proving that their identity is strong enough to use unrelated elements and aggregate them into a cohesive whole, and showing that they're really playing a game of their own. Ultimately, their output has been a constant work-in-progress to find new meanings for the unknown, and "Dear Science" comes as just the latest opus in this brilliant path. (8,5/10).

TV On The Radio - Golden Age (video)

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