Monday, December 1, 2008

TV On The Radio - Dear Science

Rating: 9.0.
Released: Sept. 23, 2008, Interscope

Perhaps the best record I've heard this year.

This five-member New York art-rock collective is recording some of the most thrilling music today.

It's heavy, melodic and dense. The band records progressive, dramatic songs that flirt with multiple genres, often in the same song.

This is their most accessible album yet, which, oddly enough, is also their best. TV On The Radio proves the best bands are both challenging and accessible.

There's the Joy Division stomp of "Halfway Home," the brainy funk of "Crying," the spacey pop of "Golden Age," and the cinematic swell of "Family Tree." The latter song is a marvel of minimalism, building on a ringing piano and strings that crescendo like Radiohead's "The Bends."

Singer Tunde Adebimpe uses his Arthur Lee voice with equal parts grace and, at times, ferocity, pairing with musical partner Kyp Malone. Malone often sings the tenor to Adebimpe's bass, injecting even the most sorrowful of songs, "Love Dog" for example, with a sprightly foil.

The pop comes with a message.

"Hey jackboot, fuck your war/ cause I'm fat and in love and no bombs are fallin' on me for sure," Malone sings on "Red Dress," a horn-heavy romp that bridges the album's first-half dance epics to the moody histrionics bookending the collection.

Best of all might be "Shout Me Out," a pounding call-to-action that starts with a muted bass, majestic horns and an irresistible melody, before pounding out the kinks with a double-time electronic coda and distorted guitars.

"Lord if you've got lungs/ c'mon and shout me out," Adebimpe sings. It could be a birthday shout-out or a furious break-out song, depending on your point of view.

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