TV On The Radio match poetic verse with a chromatic backdrop of wildly experimental instrumentation, and their creations have already solidified a positioning as the most influential indie group of the last decade. TVOTR is known for creating music that thematically links their subconscious, societal disapproval to a metamorphosis into aggressively sexual beasts. While their earliest works were more suited as soundtracks of a debaucher's Armageddon, their latest product, and fifth full-length, Nine Types Of Light, is far less disorienting and noticeably higher in spirit.
TVOTR maintains a spectrum of style like no other. Their list of influencers extends from Prince to Nancy Sinatra, and amazingly, these diverse elements surface in every detail. We were first introduced to their heavy interpretation of modern soul in 2002 with OK Calculator. Their following releases preserved their musical roots, but they gradually evolved into contemporary symbols of classical composers. They utilize synth like no other modern artist. Every key and chord serves a purpose with its own personality.
Nine Types Of Light not only presents TVOTR as a fine-tuned symphony, but it signifies the group's enlightenment. While their prior products embodied hopelessness, they've evidently uncovered a means to the end of this torturous world. According to the album, consolation and meaning in an often-bleak existence is simply provided by the love of another.
The newfound tone of TVOTR is displayed immediately in the album's opening track, "Second Song". The undeniably optimistic vocals of Tunde Adebimpe partner with searing horns as he enters his Gibbs-ian, high-pitched chorus with the line, "I'll defend my love forever." While the entire album follows the brighter theme, fluctuating emotions are continuously presented. In "Will Do", a developing aggravation of love's disapproval is emanated through growing instrumental chaos as well as the lyrics, "You don't wanna waste your life in a lovesick lullaby." Unlike TVOTR of the past, complete disorder is never attained. Instead, the aggression is subdued and a logical resolution of the narrative's conflict is attained.
The hidden highlight of the album is its track, "Killer Crane". The least tech-enhanced song, it's the TVOTR that we've never experienced. Gentle vocals accompanied by banjo twangs, penetrating cello, and classical piano, it's possibly their most personal piece to date.
Though its songs like "Killer Crane" may not maintain the orgy-inspiring mood of "Wolf Like Me", Nine Types Of Light presents the band as a constantly progressing super group. Those who praise their prior cynicism will perhaps be disappointed, but below the thematic enlightenment, remains the sonic brilliance that is TV on the Radio.