Nov 10, 2008

Dear Science-TV On The Radio

If "Return To Cookie Mountain" was a near perfect statement of a band tearing modern music apart, then the much anticipated follow up is the sound of a band putting it back together. With nearly the same results. "Dear Science" is staunchly intelligent, firmly exciting, surely pulsating, if maybe not quite the avalanche of great songs that was RTCM. But it's close. It certainly is overwhelmingly great in the second half, its definite strong point. And it is also certain that TV On The Radio are one of the great bands on this planet. Pushing envelopes and shifting boundaries. With great clarity.

My first taste of "Dear Science" was "Golden Age". Frankly, I was underwhelmed. It was funky and catchy, but a little nondescript. Still is. My second taste was "Dancing Choose". Similarly I wasn't feeling it. It was fun and all, but where was the burning anger, the defining moments of soul and burning passion. Well, they are there, but you need to dig deeper. Or even start at the beginning. "Halfway Home" contains that trademark TVOTR blend of soul and funk for the modern age. Anger elegantly cloaked in blues and gospel. "The lazy way they turned your head into a rest stop for the dead. And did it all in gold and blue and grey". And political, yes? It also features the always superb vocals of Tunde Adebimpe. His voice ethereal and light, fractured and human. Reaching high and hitting the stars. The other song in the first half that strikes a chord is "Stork & Owl", a majestic song. Dark and delicious. But it's the second half where things get into full stride. "Love Dog" is deliberate and stark. It smoulders before burning. Whilst "Shout Me Out" is fun and funky, but still substantial. Then "DLZ" is short and sharp, a hammer to the head. Both these songs also feature amazing drumming. But the best is saved to last. "Lover's Day" is a siren. A call to arms. But a call to love, not a storm of anger. It's a vital statement of undying and powerful love. Erotic and exultant. It features peaks of musical beauty. Elastic drumming, sweeping horns and piercing horns. Triumphant, perfect. One of many perfect moments on an album that is not perfect. But brave, intelligent and bleeding with the spirit of life. Passion. Commitment. Love.

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