Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tv on the Radio

Tv on the Radio – Dear Science (2008)


By now you’ve probably read all the reviews, blogs, quotes and everything else about TV on the Radio’s third release. Sorry to disappoint you folks but this one will be no different. Indeed Dear Science IS a fantastic album and the group’s best record to date. They’ve been showing potential ever since the monumental ‘Young Liars’ e.p. back in 2003 and now they’ve reached it.

But why is everyone turning into a dribbling monster at the mere mention of this album? What is the magic secret? Has the band created some extreme wall of sound that they displayed on the previous album ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’?, have they gone all techno? What is it?

What makes Dear Science so appealing is that producer and band member Dave Sitek actually whittled the band back to their basics and opted for a cleaner sound. No more hazy back drops or distorted instruments. Everything is clear as a bell. However the record still has that trademark TVOTR (as they are known the trade) ‘Dancing Choose’ mutates from a punk hip hop hybrid to full on South African funk workout, Closer Lovers day merges beats with brass bands. The experimentation is still there but it’s presented in a more accessible manner.

It seems that lyrically the band have grown up. Sure love figures as usual but then there seems to be a newfound paranoia and aversion to 21st century technology. Although this isn’t blatantly explicit, most of the songs seem to lament a type of love lost due to today’s society, want references? How about ‘Stork & Owl’, DLZ or ‘Crying’. To spout a cliché it’s the same trick Radiohead pulled off 11 years ago with Ok Computer and many bands have tried to capture this sentiment (erm Bloc Party being the one in mind at the moment) towards this decade none of them have really manages. Thankfully TVOTR have succeeded and put an original spin on the theme as well.

The centerpiece and album summation is found in first single ‘Golden Age’ . In the band’s own words it is an attempt to create a utopian ideal within the structure of a pop song. Personally I half agree with that. The utopian ideal is there as for pop song well it’s pop in TVOTR terms. A prince-like funk number that erupts into a Everest size chorus. It’s the catchiest song of the band’s repertoire and is a sign that they are certainly capable of pulling off some stunts. Also they are honestly the first group to honour his purpleness and get it right. Along with the Ok Computer compariions, I can see other homages to that other society conscious album : ‘Sign O the Times’.

TVOTR never cease to amaze me, I do appreciate their use of brass bands and so on but it’s the little details one such moment is during ‘Family Tree’ where a Beach Boys ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ creeps in or the whistling that unfurls unobtrusively during ‘DLZ’

Dear Science ends on a raunchy note the sex filled ‘Lover’s Day’ is a band letting out it’s inner caveman, it like the song is a huge phallus ready to pummel itself into the female form. It’s brilliant, furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, it is bookended by a brass band that sounds unlike something you’d hear in Disneyworld. You’d imagine kids chanting ‘It’s a Small World’ hand in hand. It’s disturbing and uplifting ending to a great record. Maybe after all the wars and computers a good shag is the ideal solution? Who knows? All I can say is that Dear Science (there is actually supposed to be a comma at the end but for some weird reason it was left out so I did the same) is essentially a magnificent love and hate letter to this decade and yet ends on the hippy ideal that ‘all you need is love’.

No comments: