TV on the Radio’s Dear Science

Return to Cookie Mountain garnered much attention and acclaim for New York art-rockers TV on the Radio upon its release in 2006. Two years later, the band returns with Dear Science, an electronic exploration of post-punk, funk and soul that finds itself somewhere between Prince and Talking Heads.
Dear Science is a fantastic follow-up to Cookie Mountain. This album finds the band taking the best elements of their previous works and honing and perfecting them. The polished production of this album helps in defining the atmospheric space the band creates with each song.
Mixed, recorded and produced by founding band member David Andrew Sitek, Dear Science is a sonic complexity. With the buried percussion, the dense droning of synths, bass, horns and strings and crisp, funky guitar, earbuds won’t do this album justice.
TV on the Radio have an excellent ability of creating atmospheres within their songs. As important as the melodies of the vocals and guitars are the low drones of the synth and bass and the dense syncopated percussion. Sonically, each song on Dear Science is like a painting. The band employs horns and strings to give each song its depth and its own space. The album’s first single, “Golden Age,” combines dense synthesized bass with light string arrangements to create an uplifting gospel feel over which vocalist/guitarist Kyp Malone sings about “the age of miracles, the age of sound” in his best Prince-style moan. Malone also shines on the Latin-infused “Red Dress,” an up-beat groove combining horns, organ and congas.
Songs by lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe are much more melodic, but what he lacks in overall vocal ability, he makes up for in vocal performance. On songs like “Dancing Choose” and “DLZ,” Adebimpe sings with conviction. Lyrically, Dear Science is very direct. The band always seems to be speaking directly to someone, whether it is the media, the government or religion. Like the album’s title would suggest, each song is written very much like a message to a specific audience.
Not every song on Dear Science is based on intensity and movement — slower songs such as “Stork and Owl” rely more on swirling melodies and vocal harmonies to create their soundscape. “Family Tree” is like Coldplay on acid with delayed piano, lush strings and light percussion.
While Cookie Mountain launched TV on the Radio into the spotlight, Dear Science will keep them there. Don’t be surprised if in three months, like with Cookie Mountain, we see TV on the Radio’s name at the top of many year-end lists.

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