Two years ago, TV On The Radio was on the verge of becoming one of my favorite bands. Then came the night of March 8, 2007. I purchased a ticket to see them perform at The Vogue Theater in Indianapolis (aka: the Sodom and Gomorra of the Midwest). The Vogue is a 21+ venue, which shouldn’t have been a problem because I was 22 at the time. However, my driver’s license had expired, making me ineligible to get in, even though I had documented proof I was old enough to enter the putrid venue. So the evening ended with my “friends” watching the show while leaving me to sit alone in the car for over three hours.
Since then, I had been reluctant to listen to this band. While it was in no way their fault (in fact, I met two band members while waiting for my “friends” to exit) listening to them just brought back memories of that cruddy night. This reason, mixed with my non-existent cash flow, made me reluctant to purchase their new album “Dear Science.” After several months, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. After a few listens, I can officially say that all is forgiven.
“Dear Science” is an eclectic celebration of everything art rock is supposed to be. The band fuses together elements of rock, jazz, hip-hop, ska and damn near every other genre under the sun making it virtually impossible to predict what’s going to happen next. While such an experimental take on music making came sometimes have messy and disastrous results, TVOTR balances all these elements perfectly, making the album every bit as enjoyable as it is unpredictable.
While the music is outstanding, the lyrical content is where the album shines brightest. Singer Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals paint a disturbingly accurate portrait of living in America’s current state of unrest. “This is beginning to feel like it’s curling up slowly and finding a throat to choke,” Adebimpe sings on “DLZ,” the albums strongest track. And on “Red Dress” when he belts out “I’m scared to death that I’m living a life not worth dying for,” only an asshole (ie: a successful person) cannot relate.
It’s not all gloom a doom, however, which give the album a great balance. “Golden Age” gives hope that a, well, Golden Age, is fast approaching, placing this optimistic view over a groove so boogeylicious it wouldn’t be out of place if played at a roller rink dance circle (if such a practice still exists). The album closes with “Lover’s Day,” an anthem celebrating the art of performing sexual intercourse so vibrate and vivacious the police have to be called. And while it will make several people (me especially included) feel inadequate about our own love-making abilities, it’s a good final break from the albums more serious topics.
It took a lot for me to get over that grave March evening of 2007, and while I still would not hesitate to dance on the ashes of The Vogue if it were ever to burn to the ground, my hostility no longer spills over towards TV On The Radio. “Dear Science” is a firm reminder as to why I was forming such affection for them in the first place and it may be their best work to date.
1. Halfway Home
3. Dancing Choose
4. Stork & Owl
5. Golden Age
6. Family Tree
7. Red Dress
8. Love Dog
9. Shout Me Out
11. Lover’s Day
• Brilliant and poignant lyrics
• Musically diverse
• Smart and most importantly, just pleasing to the ear
• The band came back to The Vogue last fall even though I implored them not to. Oh well, I guess if I made music this good I wouldn’t take career advice from a Kroger cashier either.
This album, as well as their also excellent 2006 work “Return To Cookie Mountain” can be streamed for free at myspace.com/tvotr.