TV on the Radio's missive to society

But TVOTR’s own guitarist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Sitek has also infused the album with sweeping soundscapes of strings- and synthesizer-laced walls-of-sound, expertly mixing minimal guitar elements with loud bursts of inspired music and never settling solely on one or even two rhythms in a single song.

Dear Science opens with “Halfway Home,” an up-tempo number marked by fuzzy layers of synths, vocal chanting, hand-clapping and lyrics delivered in a soft sing-song tone by Adebimpe, the unique rhythm exploding into a fast-pounding climax of distorted guitar riffs. The disco-fied “Crying” pairs funky guitar and playful keyboard blips and beeps with easy beats and rollercoaster horns, lyrics waxing on “late breaking disasters/ Next to news of the trite.” “Golden Age” follows a similar formula – serious lyrics paired with fun, bumpin’ rhythms, the Prince-style groove complete with falsetto vocals, a sassy little bassline, and a chorus that swells to a string-laced crescendo.

The album’s crowning glory is “Shout Me Out,” which opens with repetitive guitar notes and a simple hip-hop beat, Adebimpe singing over an austere background that builds to the chorus (“Lord, if you’ve got lungs/ C’mon shout me out”) and launches into a bombastic surge of fast grooves and screaming guitars, only to slow down into a short breakdown, then speed up again. It’s this slow-fast-slow-fast unexpectedness that makes this song and so many others on the album work so well.

TVOTR has learned to have fun with its seriousness, to set dark meditative lyrics about society’s ills against a soundtrack of hard-rockin’ dance music that brims with bravado, sexiness and soul. Dear Science, finds musicians who’ve already learned to rage and cry, and are now showing they know how to rejoice just as well. 4.5 out of 5 stars

TV on the Radio established itself as an art-rockin’, hip-hoppin’ heavyweight capable of rising above the status of mere buzz band with spectacular, well-produced first and second albums.

Many other groups would be crushed by the burden of their own brilliance. But David Sitek, Tunde Adebimpe and their assemblage of talented cohorts rose to the occasion with Dear Science, a third effort that is not only solid and well-crafted, but ambitious, masterful and possibly TVOTR’s best thus far.

The usual trademark elements are here: organic percussion mixed with drum machine beats, perfectly placed horn arrangements and electronic embellishments, stunning falsetto harmonies by singer/bassist Kyp Malone, and several well-placed appearances by Celebration’s throaty-voiced singer Katrina Ford.


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