Super Group Aim Genre Spanning Sound Toward Radio Friendly Crowd

TV On the Radio
Nine Types Of Light
Interscope

TV on the Radio has returned in good form after a string of highly touted albums including the phenomenal Dear Science and Return to Cookie Mountain. On Nine Types of Light, TV on the Radio continues to deliver their patented soul/funk/art-rock mélange, while exercising a more accessible method that would even please casual listeners.

The larger, spacier soundscape that the band flirted with on 2008’s Dear Science is fully realized this time around. The smooth, atmospheric electronics are felt more often than heard — an indication that the band has become much more comfortable with nuanced production over the past decade.

Vocalist Tunde Adebimpe’s soulful vocal range is prominent throughout, and while his unrestrained falsetto may be his most distinguishable tool (the delicate yet emotional croons of standout “Keep Your Heart”), he at times approaches the self-indulgently poppy. The band has clearly become keen on producing hook-happy choruses that stray from the divisive experimentation of its past, and more toward a somewhat unconventional strain of radio rock.

Nine Types truly shines, however, from a production standpoint. Multi-instrumentalist and super collaborator David Sitek’s technical prowess steers the band into brave new territory, employing an arsenal of unconventional sounds from the gently picking banjo on “Killer Crane” to the warm brass of the horn section that supplements the album from beginning to end.

Yet while the album boasts some inventive heavy-hitters in “Second Song” and “Will Do,” other tracks come across as undeveloped Dear Science B-Sides. “Forgotten” struggles to land a strong hook while “New Cannonball Blues”’s murky repetition becomes increasingly dull as it approaches the five-minute mark.

But the misfires are scarce and forgivable, eclipsed by the expected grooves of one of the preeminent boundary-pushers in modern music. Nine Types of Light manages to narrow TV on the Radio’s boundless scope without abandoning the band’s infectious, time warping aesthetic. (7/10)

—Taylor Hogshead

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