Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TV On The Radio - Dear Science (2008)

4.5 ★/9.0 - 9.9

Delivering a follow-up to what many will probably look back on as one of the greatest albums of the decade can be a bitch. Just ask Kevin Shields or Brian Wilson. TV On The Radio understands that once you've dropped a masterpiece, there's a delicate balance you have to maintain afterward. You want to move on because what's the point of trying the same sound once you've already mastered it? But you don't want to make a full fledged jump into a single new genre only to find out it isn't your strong suit (Just ask David Bowie). So TV On The Radio did the smart thing and made Dear Science an Aladdin Sane to their Ziggy Stardust. It takes the basis of Return to Cookie Mountain (impossible to categorize, poetry laced Noise-Soul-Doo Wop-Indie Rock), and diversifies it in every direction at once. With the benefits of a new studio, TV On The Radio experiment and play with everything they could get their hands on, and guess what? It turns out they can do pretty much anything.

Prince-like grooves such as "Crying," and "Golden Age" have addictive, buzzing synths and jerky Electronica in their DNA while "Stork & Owl" and "Family Tree" pile the strings, creating lush Disney-esque ballads that soar with soul and passion. There's even the usual head-scratchers, such as "Dancing Choose" (Funky Electro-Rap Indie Rock?) or the rackety "Red Dress," shaking with punky sneering declarations yet nimble horns and funky guitars. And while the sheer variety of everything here can be exhausting, there's something infinitely exciting about the fact that 3 albums in, this band is still impossible to pin down, categorize or compare to any other band out there. Well there is the unavoidable comparison to Radiohead at their original peak (The Bends to Kid A), but that's just because TV On The Radio could similarly go in any direction from here, and there's very little doubt that it'll anything less than stellar.

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