Best albums of 2008: TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio - Dear Science,

My other contribution to The Skinny‘s top ten albums of 2008. This made #3 in the collective poll.

The title of TV On The Radio’s third album offers a small insight into the kind of intellectual japes behind their creative process. Dear Science, (the comma is intended, punctuation fans) was the opening gambit of a letter written by guitarist Dave Sitek that he posted on the wall of his Brooklyn studio during recording. It demanded of science itself that it “fix all the things you’re talking about” or shut up. Although playful, it demonstrates the band’s artistic integrity: they may ply their trade on the creative side of the fence, but they’re still looking over to the other side expectantly.

But what of all this talk that TVotR have mellowed since Return to Cookie Mountain? Remnants of that album’s worldly frustration can still be heard on the incendiary Dancing Choose or in the existential numbness of Red Dress:

Hey jackboot, fuck your war / ‘Cause I’m fat and in love And no bombs are fallin’ on me for sure / But I’m scared to death that I’m livin’ a life not worth dyin’ for.”

For the most part Dear Science, loosens the coils of angst and sonic density the band once wound so tight; like Talking Heads before them, TVotR realise that funk stylings don’t necessarily entail dumb fun music. Crying finds Tunde Adebimpe trying on his best Prince falsetto, while Golden Age employs a catchy off-beat guitar hook. This new-found peppiness doesn’t always work – Stork And Owl and Shout Me Out are the only fillers – but this enormously talented quintet have still delivered on the daunting expectation they set themselves in 2006. Dear Indie Rock, you’ve got some catching up to do.

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