The more that I listen to the latest album by Experimental Rock powerhouse TV on the Radio, the more I realize that they are creating some of the most ambitious and spaced-out material in the music game. Their 5th studio album, Nine Types of Light dropped today, and presents an interesting theme of the beginning and the end of all we know, whether it be small things, or the big picture.
As far as song structure, it is most similar to their 2006 album Return to Cookie Mountain, with dark lyrics attached to dance worthy instrumentals. Speaking of instrumentals and RtCM, the horns have come back in a big way, with over half the tracks containing some heavy horn element.
I’ve always admired the ability of every member of this band, with every member playing several instruments, giving truth to the term experimental that they’ve been labeled with. Beyond these traits, the band also assembled an hour long music video for the entire album, with different themes and directors for each songs video. In between each song are interviews/monologues with several people discussing their thoughts on the concepts of the album and beyond. Definitely worth an hour of your time. Check it out on their YouTube channel right here.
The opening track, Second Song was a perfect fit, and I found myself starting my daily drive to the office with its talk of trials and tribulations that we all start our day with. The buildup was interesting, inspiring thoughts of a sunrise perhaps, and heavy contemplation.
The single from the album, Will Do is a love song plain and simple. Beautiful xylophones dance along the steady rhythm, with front man Tunde Adebimpe rhyming about lovers plight. The geek I am, I felt like there were several hidden messages about the state of what we consider ‘real’ relationships in the digital age. The music video has members of the band reluctantly living out fantasies…or even just vacant memories of their passions via virtual reality hardware in an empty apartment. Amazing.
My favorite song however, was the 7th track, New Cannonball Run. A simple but stabbing three notes from a synthesizer loom over the funky drums of Jaleel Bunton; his heavy cymbal work a welcome method to the rhythm. The song slowly progresses to add a more prominent bass line, quick guitar strums, and eventually full blown horns by song’s end. Lyrically rich, Tunde talks about full system breakdown, “Hey girls, hey boys/No, don’t mind the noise/ It’s just the sound of being dragged to hell”, and what a crying shame it all is. If you watch the full movie I posted earlier, the video for the song is about 11 minutes in.
This album is in the ‘Greater than the sum of its parts’ category, and is approachable by just about anyone, old and new fans alike. At first, I didn’t think it would trump my love for their last album Dear Science, but after seeing the movie, combined with the wonderfully written album; it’s really starting to grow on me.
Nine Types of Light is out today, and for you Los Angeles fans, we’re hoping to see you at their May 3rd show at The Music Box!
Until next time my friends,