TV on the Radio – ‘Dear Science’

November 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide, #59, October 2008.

TV on the Radio
Dear Science
(4AD/Remote Control)


Superlatives aside, Brooklyn quintet TV on the Radio is one hell of a great band. The layered offbeat soul of 2004’s Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes and the thunderous rhythms and textures of follow-up Return to Cookie Mountain were both watersheds on the international indie landscape; the latter drawing plaudits as one of the records of 2006. As such, third oeuvre Dear Science arrives with plenty of baggage. And from the propulsive pop dynamics of opener Halfway Home, it proves a very different kind of record. Think notes rather than chords, strands rather than knots. Where Cookie Mountain shuddered with a searing, multi-tracked urgency, Dear Science finds its cogence in its clarity of vision. It slips between moods and orientations with inherent ease; it lets flashes of popped-up funk bleed into orchestral flourishes, into reticent balladry. Seamlessly schizophrenic first single Golden Age is a telling sign. Rather than layer, this is all about hook and melody, radio-friendly dynamics and groove. Cuts like the shimmering Stalk & Owl, gorgeous Family Tree and sorrowful Love Dog peal and entwine like never before – Kyp Malone’s arcing falsetto effortlessly counterbalancing Tunde Adebimpe’s impassioned lead. But this really feels like production impresario David Sitek’s piece. Dear Science isn’t a band album as such, but meticulously constructed, electronically enveloped patchwork. The raw, crucial impulse that was Cookie Mountain will never be replicated, but this a new and exciting tangent.

Dan Rule


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