TV on the Radio – Seeds
In my head, TV on the Radio is way more avant-garde than they actually are. Somehow I forget that these guys aren’t avant-garde so much as innovative. As in the most innovative rock band currently going. Is that hyperbole? Overstatement? I’m listening to Seeds and wondering how a band so effortlessly brands their music with so much soul, excitement, cool, and straight-up kickassedness. Seeds isn’t as out there as their much lauded masterwork Return to Cookie Mountain, but even though it’s a pretty straightforward effort it’s one of the best rock records of the year. What TV on the Radio do feels effortless in a way that it overshadows how hard these guys work to make the music sound that way.
Somehow or other I missed the band’s 2011 album Nine Types of Light. Like totally missed it. Didn’t hear a single. Didn’t see the cover art. I didn’t even know it existed. I thought Seeds was the follow up to Dear Science (and thought “Damn, that’s a long time in between records”). It’s really been ten years since Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes? Ten years since TV on the Radio revealed itself to be on an entirely different planet than every other rock band. Tunde Adupimbe’s vocals anchor TVOTR’s art rock tendencies in a prism that can go from soulful (“Careful You”) to energetic (“Lazerray”) to borderline menacing (“Happy Idiot”) in damn compelling fashion. Of course it’s not just the vocals, because these guys are more than adept at churning out some of the tightest compositions you’re likely to hear anywhere and guitarist/producer Dave Sitek is one of this era’s producers of note. There’s not a lot of envelope pushing going on here, and given the quality of the songs this isn’t an issue.