TV On the Radio


Written by: HES on 29/12/2014 04:03:13

Many a jaded rock critic might tell you that this band peaked back in the 08's as some kind of temporary fashion item. Their sound back then was more triumphant, but has now been replaced with a contemplative, but still overwhelmingly catchy indie rock. The untimely death of the band's bassist Gerald Smith seems to have coloured the band in a more melancholic hue. One of the pearls of such melancholia is "Love Strained", which is driven into the chorus by only an off-beat bass drum, then almost reaching a weird tribal crescendo exaggerated by synths and backing vocals with just a dash of traditional throat singing.

The song that originally put this album on my "To Do"-list was the single "Happy Idiot" that magically appeared on some casual indie-list on Spotify. The melancholy is here replaced with resignation: "Ignorance is bliss. I'm a happy idiot. Waving at cars. I'm gonna bang my head to the wall. 'Til I feel like nothing at all". I remember when Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive" came out as a single and I remember thinking "this is how the recent craze with electronic music should be incorporated in mainstream rock" - but the rest of that album was a giant let down. TV On the Radio manage to get close to that formula though - using the electronic elements to create a dystopian atmosphere.

Through-out the album it is clear that the band has moved more towards a style I generally prefer: I am a sucker for melancholy - but as the train took the right turn, it kinda went too far in that direction. Whereas I like many of the songs of "Seeds" it at the same time contains a tendency to ruin vocals with editing, adding weird drums - not unlike the ones I could add myself on my 90's keyboard (for the worst example see "Test Pilots" or "Quartz"). The album has 12 tracks and I can't help but wonder if the band would have been better off with cutting the album down a bit and let some of those snaredrums stay were they should stay: In the past.

All in all it's hard to grade an album that is on one hand pointing in all the right directions, but then on the other hand points in all the wrong ones too. Some of the songs like "Lazerray" and "Ride" takes me on trails I really want to follow - some like "Quartz" and "Test Pilots" just lead me astray. I wish there had been a little less Chase & Status - and a little more African-American gospel influence as the band was previously known for.


Download: Happy Idiot, Lazerray, Love Strained
For the fans of: LCD Soundsystem, Imagine Dragons, Animal Collective
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.11.2014
Harvest Records

Related Items | How we score?
comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXI