TV on the Radio - Seeds

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After three years that was nearly forever, TV on the Radio have returned with an album to eliminate the temptation to lock yourself in the closet and cry listening to Taylor Swift. Lost in the weeds a bit after the subdued reception to their last record, Nine Types Of Light, the five permanent bandmates tragically became four with the loss of bassist Gerard Smith to cancer. Seeds permanently allayed concerns that the low note would be the end of a band best described as lovable, but its an understandably lovesick record and the most subdued TV on the Radio release yet.

Since their iconic indie rock albums of the previous decade, the Brooklyn-based band have had their borough completely overrun by hipsters. In such an annoyingly tough crowd, they might not banging their way out of the weeds just yet, but Seeds is joyous in its thematic simplicity. Put away 1989, here are some guilt free break-up songs running the emotional love affair gamut, mostly the trials and tribulations that come after the honeymoon phase they get right out of the way on "Quartz."

"Hey, there it goes into sun, steam, and marigolds. I am yours, you are mine, through a lifetime of disagreements," sings Tunde Adebimpe, whose falsetto-tinged vocals are comforting to hear again after all this time. There are the lows. "Happy Idiot" offers nothing in the way of frills, well, except for the priceless music video featuring Paul Rebuens, a.k.a. PeeWee Herman, as "Racer Steven" haunted by Doctor Who's Amy Pond, Karen Gillan. The album's single is a grim, straight-laced guitar lick drummed at a pace to keep your skull pressed to the headrest, but its aim is true. Something that has remained constant and engaging within each TV on the Radio album has been Adebimpe's poetic rhythm. It's all his own and accented by the stark bridges on songs like the mournful "Love Stained.' It has to be said that the band's usual edge is somewhat dulled on most of these new songs. The horns that made a lot of the old stuff riotous play a much smaller role on "Seeds," which revolves around the more refined use of a smaller instrument collection and pop hooks. They do kick out the jams somewhat with the heavy reverb of "Winter" and the Ramones-like "Lazerray," in which they hit the power pop punk hard enough to get all their verging-on-middle-age fans out of their seats again and back down toward the stage to significantly raise the median age in the pit.

It has to be said that the band's usual edge is somewhat dulled on most of these new songs. The horns that made a lot of the old stuff riotous play a much smaller role on "Seeds," which revolves around the more refined use of a smaller instrument collection and pop hooks. They do kick out the jams somewhat with the heavy reverb of "Winter" and the Ramones-like "Lazerray," in which they hit the power pop punk hard enough to get all their verging-on-middle-age fans out of their seats again and back down toward the stage to significantly raise the median age in the pit.

Sure Seeds retreads a lot of TV on the Radio's familiar sounds, but the the hand claps, "oohs" and "yeahs" never seemed bent on achieving some lofty status of cool. The goal always seemed to aimed at making sure each and everybody at the show had a damn good time. In line with bands like the New Pornographers, TV on the Radio won't make a bad record unless they ever cease having a damn good time. For all the pain and melancholy on "Seeds," it still sounds like music is cathartic. The title track clinches Seeds as hopefully as could be asked for: TV on the Radio are still growing. "Rain comes down like it always does. This time, I've got seeds on ground."

Total Score: 8.3
Editors' Choice

Dylan Brown

Contributor

Listening to and writing about music from Audiohammock's Washington, D.C., bureau, Dylan finds the fetid cesspool of American politics a rather nice place to live and work. He's a reporter by day, an Idahoan by birth and podcast guest by way of Audiohammock.
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