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TV on the Radio is that band that releases an album, I get really excited about it, play it for a couple of weeks after it gets released, don't play them for a couple of years, and then suddenly hear they're coming out with something new and the cycle starts again. Well, that is to say it happened for their first three albums, and I guess the next few weeks will tell me whether this album is any different.
The first single from the album - "Will Do" - came as a bit of a surprise. Dear Science didn't not have its share of slow songs ("Stork and Owl" and "Family Tree" pop to mind), but overall it was a danceable album. And while Will Do still has a lot of sounds that make TV on the Radio so distinct (if there are really such sounds, it's mainly Tunde Adebimpe's voice, a sincere love of bass, abrupt snares, and using an inexhaustible array of instruments). It sounds like the band may have moved into that general direction. The music is less about the glitch and beats and a vague sense of abandonment and dystopia, and a bit more about creating a really intense soundscape, built around Adebimpe. The backing vocals in some of the songs deliver a nice contrast to his voice, and appear more often throughout. In fact, Repetition seems to have almost completely abandoned the distinct sound, and as a result does lose some of that TV on the Radio feel.
The album opener, "Second Song", promises TV on the Radio right off the bat. It builds up, slowly, but once the bridge and chorus hit, and the guitar riffs build together with trumpets and an 'oooh oooh oooh' you know you're back in familiar waters. It putters out a little towards the end, but its a personal relief to hear something that could potentially be used to bring a crowd alive. It's no "Red Dress" though.
And I guess that is one of the great things about this band - every album they release doesn't really nestle into any previous standards, making them hard to categorise, which ultimately lets them try new things with what has previously been proven an effective sound. Once again, I am not sure the album has a longevity to it, but it will be played often through my speakers, even if it lacks the up-beat of Dear Science and the vast emptiness that is Return To Cookie Mountain.
TV on the Radio - Will Do