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Album review: TV on the Radio's 'Nine Types of Light'

April 11, 2011 |  7:30 pm

Tvotr_nine_187_ For a group that first established itself with arresting albums coated in murky atmosphere and deep organic shadows, TV on the Radio sure seems to be in a good mood lately. After 2006’s “Return to Cookie Mountain” earned raves for building a sonic world soaked in the weary outrage of post-Katrina America, the follow-up, “Dear Science,” was the sound of a band stepping out of the darkness, merging its dense, lattice-work song craft with its most immediate melodies yet.

But any TVOTR fans hoping for a return to the band’s heavier early days might have trouble with “Nine Types of Light,” an album full of such a brilliant clarity that the title could be referencing its track listing (a 10th song, “Caffeinated Consciousness,” maybe qualifies as the exception with its swaggering guitar churn, but even that comes off like a populist anthem). Nimble vocalists Tunde Adepimbe and Kyp Malone have plenty of room to navigate the album’s wide open spaces, such as the seesawing horns and chewy synths of opener “Second Song,” which sounds like something from the most R&B-dusted corners of Peter Gabriel’s catalog. “Keep Your Heart” and “You” function like lovesick bookends with chugging beats balanced with plucked guitar and piano.

More driving moments, such as the snide dance-rock of “No Future Shock” and the militaristic punch of “Repetition,” show that the band still has an eye toward the larger world, but these are exceptions on an album concerned with examining more intimate connections, not the least of which is an ever-growing one between a group and its listeners.

TV on the Radio
“Nine Types of Light”
Three and a half stars (Out of four)


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