Over the past decade, Brooklyn's TV on the Radio has steadily evolved from prickly art-rockers into something softer, more -- gasp! -- approachable.
Dear Science, TVOTR's stunning 2008 opus, landed the group on or near the top of nearly every year-end list in sight. Yet Nine Types of Light, its follow-up, may not have quite the same impact.
It's not a wholly reactionary album -- Tunde Adebimpe, Dave Sitek, Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton and Gerard Smith (currently taking a leave of absence from the band to receive treatment for lung cancer) are too smart to intentionally undo years of hard work -- but listeners expecting the new album to simply continue in the vein of Dear Science may be startled by what they find.
In an effort to distance itself from the past, the band decamped to Los Angeles to record Light, with Sitek once again functioning as producer. The results are, well, sexy; TV on the Radio brings its penchant for funk to the forefront, but doesn't forsake sensitivity. These aren't sun-dappled selections ready for a beach party, but it's not hard to envision a low-key gathering around a fire pit, just off the Pacific Coast Highway.
Album opener Second Song gets you dressed and ready for a night of endless possibilities, No Future Shock aims to keep you dancing well past closing time, and Keep Your Heart or You all but snuggle up close the morning after.
Last month at South by Southwest, TV on the Radio performed a handful of the new tunes to middling effect. The band, rightly hailed as a force of nature in concert, seemed stymied by this danceable-yet-diffuse material.
After so much noise and fury, not to mention angst, TV on the Radio is learning how to live again ( Killer Crane all but stops to smell the roses), reducing its unrest to a simmer.