TV On The Radio

Earlier today, TV On The Radio announced the fall 2014 release of their fifth album, Seeds. It will be the band’s first LP since 2011′s Nine Types Of Light, a strong collection that somehow never quite got its due. Why, though? Have we taken the band for granted? It certainly seems that way. After spending a few albums as reigning indie darlings and as one of the bands deemed suitable for the title of “the American Radiohead,” Nine Types Of Light seemed to go rather quietly. People liked it, but it didn’t dominate the conversation necessarily. This could perhaps be partially traced to the fact that, after three preceding albums over which the band continued to fake us all out and leap into different dimensions each time, Nine Types Of Light was the first TV On The Radio release made up of a bunch of songs that, conceivably, wouldn’t have been too far out of place on the preceding album. It was also much, much mellower. Maybe it’s not that we took the band themselves for granted — they’re clearly extremely talented artists. But maybe we took the experimentation for granted — perhaps not inconsequently, a similar narrative could be ascribed to Radiohead’s arc in recent years — and people just didn’t know how to react when TV On The Radio didn’t, well, shock them. Or that when they did surprise them, it was because they had decided to write more conventional songs.

Any way you look at it, there’s also the inescapable fact that these things move fast. It’s 2014, and reigns are shorter than ever. But consider that up until Nine Types Of Light, each TV On The Radio LP had been one of the major, most discussed releases of their respective years. Return To Cookie Mountain was well regarded in a lot of end-of-year lists in 2006, and come 2008, Dear Science topped many of the same lists. There was some serious universality to this in the media, too: Even Rolling Stone named it the #1 album of the year. (For comparison points, #2 was an entry in Bob Dylan’s bootleg series, and #5 was John Mellencamp.) That is some serious top-of-the-heap status when it comes to a band as idiosyncratic and art-rock as TV On The Radio. Dear Science seemed like it was everywhere, and then in the overnight period of the three years that elapses between albums these days, TV On The Radio suddenly felt like a reliable stalwart, the sort of band that was going to keep cranking out reliably strong material, but that people just weren’t foaming at the mouth for anymore.

Aside from the cruel and rapid passage of time in the 21st century, there are probably two other factors to consider. One is that between Dear Science and Nine Types Of Light, there was a turnover into a new decade. That might seem minute, but TV On The Radio are at the forefront of bands that defined the “Brooklyn indie” thing, and as that became more commodified and ossified, they on one hand seemed more authentic, but also inevitably began to seem of another time and place. Foreign and exotic, yes, but also distant and not entirely legible.

There’s also the fact that the band is just inherently strange, inescapably unique. Both Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone’s vocal styles are, let’s say, unconventional, and both are crucial to the identity of the band. You could almost list whatever genre you want, and it’d make sense: doo-wop, electronica, hip-hop, New Wave, post-rock, post-punk, various strands of art-rock, and so on. There is no way this should work; it should be all over the place. TV On The Radio have touched on or incorporated bits and pieces of all of them, often weaving them together in a way where you’d never call them out immediately. So you call them art-rock in the way you do when a band has all these little recognizable parts making up an overall sound that is, more or less, totally unrecognizable.

That’s why they were so buzzed about for so long, and ironically that seems to be the same reason they somehow very quickly transitioned into a space of maybe not getting the recognition they deserve. That’s the weird flipside of being the sort of band they are: people just get used to you doing your thing, expect it from you, and either you keep experimenting and people trickle away over the years or you go more towards the middle and people think you got boring. (Again: American Radiohead.) In my opinion, all that stuff’s largely nonsense. I thought Nine Types Of Light was great. It was the first moment where one of their albums didn’t obviously, markedly improve on the last (which is insane, when you consider how strong each of their albums are), but it still showed the band maturing in interesting directions. If the new songs I heard in concert earlier this year are any indication, their forthcoming release will continue in this pattern — refining and condensing the TV On The Radio sound, a mix of gorgeous slow numbers and catchy uptempo ones. To that end, here are ten of the best songs TV On The Radio has released thus far. Consider it a little reminder of just how much these guys have accomplished in ten years.

10. “Will Do” (from Nine Types Of Light, 2011)

It was a bit of a toss up for this slot between a few of the choice cuts from Nine Types Of Light. For a while there, it was almost “You” or the proggy-folk of “Killer Crane,” but I went with my favorite from the bunch of songs that all told a similar story: Nine Types Of Light is the mellowest TV On The Radio release yet, and the first where the ballads are the easy highlights. It seems like this is part of what turned some older fans off of the album, but whatever — TV On The Radio doing these exotic, synth-y ballads is a good look as they close in on 40. “Will Do,” like “You,” comes off as a love song on the surface, another new-ish look for the band. It’s lush in a gentler way than the way they used to stack frenetic guitar over frenetic guitar. They’ve hit a point where they’re OK being straight-up beautiful without having to manipulate prettiness into whatever unforeseen shape. And that’s cool, because “Will Do” still sounds like the future anyway.

9. “Province” (from Return To Cookie Mountain, 2006)

Up until this point in their career, TV On The Radio had never allowed themselves to commit something quite as pretty as “Province” to an album — that side of their music, as mentioned above, would be saved up for later. But amidst all the contorted and alien sounds and emotions of Return To Cookie Mountain, they found time for this reverie, which approximates what I’d guess soul music will sound like when humans live on Mars. “Province” isn’t an outlier on the album. It’s rooted in the same arid ground and haunted visions as the rest of Cookie Mountain; its melodies go in the same unexpected directions, and musically it has the same blend of theoretically incompatible elements. But placed amongst other, more bug-eyed standouts like “Hours” or “Blues From Down Here,” it acts as a breather and a salve. In hindsight, it’s a hint at what happens when TV On The Radio’s darker mood begins to wash away a bit. Also, they got David Bowie to sing on this, and you can’t beat that.

8. “Staring At The Sun” (from Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, 2004)

Having moved to New York five years ago, and having moved to Brooklyn just this year, I have no direct personal experience with the version of Williamsburg that TV On The Radio started in; that place is long gone. But, even with the way the neighborhood has changed since the early ’00s, it isn’t hard to walk around and understand the particular, idiosyncratic version of New York music that TV On The Radio was making at the time. The narcotic buzz of the earlier TV On The Radio songs has always struck me as a scuzzier, broken-down cousin of shoegaze, “Staring At The Sun” being the best of them. The song makes a specific kind of apocalyptic sense when walking around abandoned, graffitied warehouses and factories in Brooklyn. It’s the kind of stuff that wants to reverberate around in more shadowy, less trafficked corners than the towers of Manhattan typically allow. “Staring At The Sun” sounds like a transmission from the end of the world, and should no longer make sense as a New York song in a Brooklyn that has Vice and “Brooklyn Girls.” Then again: if you’re walking around those parts of Brooklyn on a Friday night, with a song like “Staring At The Sun” blasting in your ears, and there are people from the Financial District waiting in lines for warehouse clubs, it can feel like just a slightly different vision of the apocalypse.

7. “I Was A Lover” (from Return To Cookie Mountain, 2006)

Fittingly for a song that supposedly samples Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” “I Was A Lover” has the feel of a trip-hop song whose clarity has been corroded away by swaths of fuzzed out guitar. The beat has that trip-hop lope, but it stutters and coughs more, breaking down into a piano break here, intensifying along with mutated horns and synths there. It’s one of the best examples of TV On The Radio giving us a song that is so intrinsically them, so seemingly from way out somewhere that few other bands are able to venture to. “I was a lover/Before this war” may remain their finest opening line, and it set the stage perfectly for the scorched landscape of Return To Cookie Mountain. “I Was A Lover” is one of a few TV On The Radio songs where the band manages to conjure whole, strange worlds in a song so expansive it feels twice as long and encompassing as it is. The result is a frayed epic, perhaps one of the lesser-sung great openers in the last two decades or so.

6. “Golden Age” (from Dear Science, 2008)

Dear Science came out at just the right time — it was 2008, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound Of Silver was still relatively young, and I was in a deep Talking Heads phase. So when “Golden Age” was the first thing I heard from Dear Science, and it started off with that rhythm and that hushed pseudo-falsetto and that Donkey Kong Country guitar part and then giddily tumbled over into those synth horn sounds and such a surprisingly uplifting and earworm-y chorus, I was sold. Based on their track record up until that point, it was no surprise that TV On The Radio would continue spreading further and further out and tasting any genre they stumbled across, but to go from Return To Cookie Mountain to going full-Prince on “Golden Age” was still an (awesome) about-face. Suddenly, TV On The Radio were willing to write pop songs, and as it turns out, they were exceedingly good at them. But aside from the stylistic shift, there’s a tonal one going on here, too — TV On The Radio were also suddenly OK with writing a truly euphoric chorus. “There’s a Golden Age comin’ round” could’ve appeared elsewhere in their catalog, but it would’ve been sardonic and distraught and surrounded by scathing distortion. Here, they began to let a real glimmer of hope into their music. They didn’t need more colors at their disposal, but of course they wanted them. And the results were stunning.

5. “Second Song” (from Nine Types Of Light, 2011)

When I was beginning to write about “Golden Age,” I was going to make the comment that TV On The Radio never otherwise sounded that giddy, that infectious — and then I remembered “Second Song.” I’d still argue that “Golden Age” is probably the band’s purest pop song, but the chorus of “Second Song” is a force to be reckoned with. Three years on from the release of Nine Types Of Light, this thing still gets stuck in my head all the time, unbidden and randomly. But while it’s possibly the band’s single catchiest song, there’s still some counterintuitive qualities to it, starting but not ending with the fact that it’s an opener cheekily titled “Second Song.” When “Second Song” begins, it shows no evidence that it’s building up to its slinky chorus. Rather, it’s all organ and meditative sing-speak. When it peals open into that chorus, it’s akin to regaining a sense, of being reminded: oh, yeah, there’s this way to perceive the world. The composite parts should feel stitched together, but there’s an expertly designed slow-build from each verse to that chorus — a slight uptick in the drum part, carefully placed piano chords, and of course, Adebimpe’s rising “Ooh-oohs,” the signal that the whole thing’s about to blossom outwards and upwards. At this point, TV On The Radio was making this look easy. “Second Song” is, after all, built on stray elements they’d already perfected elsewhere — the synth, the synth-y horn sounds, the funk rhythms. But there’s no problem to refining rather than repeatedly overhauling your sound if it results in songs this indelible.

4. “DLZ” (from Dear Science, 2008)

“DLZ” is one of those TV On The Radio songs that holds a lot not only sonically, but also flits between different moods depending on how you approach it. For a minute there, it can be seductive. That groove, those organ drones, the ability to use bongos well — there’s a surprisingly sensual quality to all those elements. But naturally, at the same time, that first verse can be totally unnerving, and fittingly, it’s only a matter of time until this song tips headlong into an unraveling, manic spiral. The gradual, steady intensifying of “DLZ” is cathartic to a degree, but only if you’re in the sort of headspace where the sort of catharsis you value is watching everything crumble into madness. By the end of the song, those same organ drones and bongos are still there, but they’re swallowed up by all the various strands and textures of the “DLZ” rising up around them. Adebimpe’s vocals have transitioned from a cooed whisper-rap to a frantic braying; the collapse or explosion or whatever has occurred. And it’s all done with stunning economy: “DLZ” is one of the most intense journeys of any TV On The Radio song, and it happens in three minutes and forty-five seconds. Bonus points for the fact that “DLZ” was used in a pivotal scene in the second season of Breaking Bad, one of the more inspired music cues on a show with no shortage of them. This isn’t a great quality video, but you should check it out.

3. “Young Liars” (from the Young Liars EP, 2003)

Back in May, I caught TV On The Radio’s set at BottleRock, a small festival in Napa Valley. It had been a while since I’d thought about or listened to the band, and when they began “Young Liars” mid-set, I didn’t recognize it for a second. Part of that, though, came from the fact that the live rendition of “Young Liars” is a whole other thing. It’s a titan of a live song: nine minutes, with a majestic slow-burn intro boiling over into repeated, dramatic peaks and valleys, verses giving way to ever-intensified choruses, the abstracted post-rock distortion of the studio upgraded to full-on, fire-breathing crescendos punctuated by a dramatic trombone line. If TV On The Radio ever did a studio version of this iteration of “Young Liars,” it would likely be the greatest thing they ever recorded. As is stands, the song is a crucial entry into their canon for multiple reasons. If you go back to the EP for which it served as a title track, it’s the song that tells you just how much this band already had themselves figured out, even before the lineup had grown into what we know it as today. In “Young Liars,” you can already hear the specific genre and emotional touchstones that would dominate TV On The Radio’s music for some time, and you can already hear them turning it into something totally their own. Part of what makes seeing them play the extended version live in 2014 is how it underlines the distance between TV on the Radio then and now. The original is hazy and moody, restrained and stark in the way of the band’s earlier music. And while that version can stand on its own, the live version shows how dynamic the band has become over time. They have learned how to craft monoliths.

2. “Halfway Home” (from Dear Science, 2008)

By the time I got here, I realized that this list has three album openers — to be exact, the openers from the last three major releases the band’s put out. They have a lot of skill in this regard, displaying an understanding of the songs of theirs that are, first of all, great songs, but also ones that exceed at establishing the headspace and sonic framework of the album to follow. “Halfway Home” goes one step beyond that. It’s everything TV On The Radio does well, in one song. The beginning is a more streamlined, direct, and propulsive version of their earlier aesthetic. The way the guitars maintain this constant distorted wave, the sort where you can’t quite tell where one note ends and the other begins, is very reminiscent of how they’d use guitars on Young Liars or Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, as is the way that Adebimpe initially murmurs amongst the noise around him (Another choice opening line for an album: “The lazy way they turned your head into a rest stop for the dead”). But this time there’s a tumbling tom pattern and handclaps pushing it all along, racing towards a chorus equally beautiful and unsettling, all eventually building towards a noisy, climactic ending. It has all the scope and sonic adventurousness we’d come to expect from the band, coupled with a newfound sense of how to frame their weirder predilections into a more conventional bit of songcraft. The mix worked brilliantly, and served them well on both Dear Science and Nine Types Of Light — and, one would assume, will continue to serve them well. If “I Was A Lover” was one of the more underrated openers in recent years, “Halfway Home” has to be in the top ten on any album by anyone in the same amount of time.

1. “Wolf Like Me” (from Return To Cookie Mountain, 2006)

It seems “Wolf Like Me” was many listeners’ entry point into TV On The Radio, and logically so. Before the band would start to soften their sound and produce more danceable songs, “Wolf Like Me” was the most immediate song the band had yet put out. And, to some extent, it’s their most inescapable, too: it’s the closest thing they’ve had to a hit, having been licensed in all manner of video games, TV shows and/or commercials, and movies. In either case, it’s for good reason. TV On The Radio’s music, even when twisty and cerebral and somewhat distant, had its qualities — usually percussive — that hinted that they could be visceral. And they went for that in a big way on “Wolf Like Me.” It has the sort of opening that immediately signals you’re in for something — those weird distant noises, the way the drums thump in before slowly being accompanied by another one of those big blurred slabs of distortion favored by the band. For a song whose strength lies primarily in the way it seems to charge along at a breakneck pace, there’s a surprising amount of dynamic shifts going on here, both subtle and obvious. In the beginning, it really feels like more of a midtempo buzz until the first chorus or so. And then just as it’s really getting crazy it drops down into that slower middle part, one of those moments in a song that exists almost solely to create the power of what comes next. Which is, of course, the final, truly breakneck minute and a half of “Wolf Like Me.” There are plenty of moments in TV On The Radio’s catalog where they get into your skin, but never quite as vitally as they do here — “Wolf Like Me” gets into your blood, the moment where Adebimpe sings “Show you what all the howl is for” right before that final, maddening rush the sort of thing that alters you on a cellular level. Every now and then, there’s something about TV On The Radio that feels very much of a recent-but-now-past era (a friend recently joked about how stereotypically ’00s-indie a name Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is). But “Wolf Like Me” is as catchily brutal and inevitable as it ever was, remaining a peak in the band’s catalog. It’s a classic of the ’00s.

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Comments (86)
  1. If only Satellite was on here, I could completely agree with this list.

  2. KO  |   Posted on Jul 29th +8

    maybe its because its a glorious day in the Northeast and I’m able to sit outside and work, but i have zero issues with this list. got it all covered. nicely done.

    • KO  |   Posted on Jul 29th +5

      hard to bump any of these songs out, but if i saw Dirtywhirl or Crying in there i would have also been pleased. i can even get down with Ambulance.

  3. DLZ is definitely my favorite. Nice list!

  4. for once, i actually totally agree. the ordering’s kinda arbitrary (woulda place DLZ higher, personally) but this is dead solid. gawd love ‘em

  5. tdc  |   Posted on Jul 29th +11

    I gotta put a vote in for Family Tree. That song gets me choked up.

  6. tdc  |   Posted on Jul 29th 0

    I gotta put a vote in for Family Tree. That song gets me choked up.

  7. Nice list. I’d put the Young Liars EP version of Staring at the Sun (w/ the long intro) @ #1.

  8. Pretty damn accurate. I’d maybe drop Will Do and replace with the hugely underrated Dear Science track Stork and Owl.

  9. Good list. I would add newish track “Mercy”. Love that song.

  10. I’d remove Second Song and replace it with Dry Drunk Emperor, otherwise pretty good list.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKxSLfHN3uw

    • I FORGOT ABOUT THAT ONE!

      I think that was about the time I realized TVOTR were really, REALLY good. When they record a one-off song that they don’t include on an album, and it’s THAT good.

      In that vein, I always enjoyed “Heroic Dose” on the “Dear Science” bonus cut. But yeah, “Dry Drunk Emperor” is a killer cut. Good call!

  11. Maybe I’m in the minority, but “Ambulance” and “Blind” were those early TVOTR tracks that always got me choked up.

    I don’t think I can ever listen to “Blind” without tearing up. “Young Liars” is one of the greatest EPs ever.

  12. My personal Top 10 would need to include “Poppy,” “Blues from Down Here,” and, to echo the gentleman above, yes, “Stork and Owl” is MASSIVE. I would also put either “Ambulance” or “A Method” because the whole doo-wop thing they do is pretty killer. I’d also take “Mercy” over anything from 9TOL.

    So…

    #1 I Was A Lover
    #2 Poppy
    #3 Stork and Owl
    #4 Blues from Down Here
    #5 DLZ
    #6 Province
    #7 Mercy
    #8 Wolf Like Me
    #9 A Method
    #10 King Eternal

    Or something like that. It’s a pretty exacting cut. There are a *lot* of great TVotR songs, and for the most part I like the album cuts more than the singles.

    • And for the record, I don’t hate 9TOL it’s just that it’s not a “desert island” kind of album for me in the way the other LPs are.

    • Ahhh yes, “A Method” is a great one.

      Props for “King Eternal” too. That opening 6 song run out the gate of Desperate Youth has always been a favorite of mine. Always tough for me to separate them all, they work together so well. “Dreams” has always been a favorite, when Tunde goes full blast with alliterations and gerunds.

      That break down at the end of “Poppy” though? Timeless.

      These guys deserve a Top 20 songs list.

      • Yeah, DYBB is just rock solid the whole way through. I think it makes picking songs tricky, because with TVOTR the album experience usually adds up to more than the some of it’s parts. Like I consider “The Wrong Way” and “Halfway Home” to be world-class album-openers, but on their own they don’t do as much for me.

        And yeah, the layered vocals / harmonies + the Slint-like guitars on “Poppy” encapsulate just about everything I like about this band.

        • Gotta add “Satellites” to the world-class album opener list. Once upon a time the leaked version I had of “Return to Cookie Mountain” had “Wolf Like Me” as the album opener. Think about that for a few seconds…

          “Halfway Home” was the moment TVOTR became legendary in my books. Exactly because their album openers were so strong, that when they pulled that out of the hat on “Dear Science” I instantly fell in love with the whole album.

  13. How has no one mentioned New Health Rock? Do people just not know about that song? That’s the only reasonable explanation.

  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  15. I was half expecting them to just leave “wolf like me” of the list.

    • Yeah, I know people like to cry troll when the “obvious #1″ (best-known, breakthrough, biggest hit, whatever) isn’t #1, but this one case where I don’t agree. Guess you can’t win.

  16. No “Robots” off Ok Calculator?

  17. If Wash the Day was on here, I could groove to this. I’d replace it with Staring at the Sun. I know I’m seriously in the minority here, but I’ve never liked that song.

  18. Caffeinated Consciousness gets so little love. Monster track.

  19. Really, you could’ve just make this list ten random tracks from Cookie Mountain, but I know that wouldn’t be fair.

    TV on the Radio is my favorite band ever. Like, ever. I’ve never posted my own top ten in response to these lists, but I feel like I have to right now.

    10 – Will Do (Nine Types of Light)
    9 – Poppy (Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes)
    8 – Dreams (Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes)
    7 – You (Nine Types of Light)
    6- Province (Return To Cookie Mountain)
    5 – Staring at the Sun (Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes)
    4 – DLZ (Dear Science)
    3 – Wolf Like Me (Return To Cookie Mountain)
    2 – Tonight (Return To Cookie Mountain)
    1 – Halfway Home (Dear Science)

    HONORABLE MENTION: Me-I (OK Calculator)

  20. “Forgotten” for some reason is unfairly, well, forgotten. When the firecracker sounding drums kick in at the end, so good.

  21. What’s everyone’s favorite TVotR album? ‘Dear Science’ far and away for me; I think it’s one of the most perfect combinations of pop sensibility and weirdness ever recorded.

    • Dear Science, by far (though all their albums are good to great).

      • I would say Return to Cookie Mountain is my favorite because, no hyperbole, it changed the way that I approached all albums and music afterwards. Even though I hate playing the other game (best-worst), I would probably vote for Dear Science as the best because of the exact reason you (jdg46) described it being your favorite.

        • Also gonna come out as a Cookie Monster here. Even though I think “Dear Science” is a bit sharper song-by-song, the Cookie Mountain album just sounds so unique… it pushes all my audiophile buttons, and I connect to it on a more emotional level than “Dear Science,” which seems a bit more cerebral to me.

    • I know it shouldn’t count, but “Young Liars EP” was always the winner in my book.

      Perfect Opener.
      Perfect Single.
      Perfect Centerpiece.
      Perfect Title Track.
      Perfect Cover Song.

      But if I had to pick an album, I’d have to go with Desperate Youth for reasons mentioned in a previous post.

    • Return To Cookie Mountain, by some distance. I really dig the buzz in DYBTB, and the streamlined and coherent sound of Dear Science is both impressive and cool. But the rawness, weirdness and energy of Cookie Mountain is something special. Even though I can hear where the inspiration come from, I don’t think any album sound anything like it. One of the most unique pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

  22. Booo, left out “Satellite” and “Dreams”!

  23. The thing about TVOTR is that you can never stop at ten songs. Personally, I’d have put the Young Liars version of Staring At The Sun at #2 and I’d try to find room for Let The Devil In, which just goes to show how strong they’ve been for a decade now.

    • Let The Devil In is one of my favorites, so unhinged and weird. Blues From Down Here too. Kyp brought some damn wild tunes to Cookie Mountain.

      These we the kinds of songs that I was missing on 9 Types of Light.

  24. Guess i’m in the minority but not really feeling this list. Here’s mine. Love these guys…almost as much as Radiohead.

    1) Ambulance
    2) Province
    3) Killer Crane (tear up every time because of Gerard)
    4) Keep your Heart
    5) Shout Me Out
    6) Repetition
    7) Mercy
    8) Family Tree
    9) Let The Devil In
    10) Lover’s Day

    Not that I don’t like Wolf Like Me just have heard it wayyyyy too much.

    • Repetition! Saw them play that one live at Free Press last year and it completely blew me away. Earned its spot in my top 10 TV on the Radio tracks that night. DLZ is my #1 though. Every play still feels like the first one.

  25. Excellent list. But I want to throw some love to Million Miles, which is just gorgeous.

  26. “Blind” has always been my favorite by a landslide. That song could go on forever (and it kind of does).

  27. I loved the Young Liars EP, but I’ll never forget catching them live for the first time, opening for Franz Ferdinand, and hearing the title track from that release live. My jaw was on the floor for the remainder of the night, and it still knocks the wind outta me every single time I see them.

  28. No one has mentioned Love Dog yet? That intro is incredible…

    I’ll be revisiting my TVOTR albums thanks to this list.

  29. Only one mention in the comments for Shout Me Out! That’s probably my number one. I also would have included the Wrong Way (damn good protest song) and A Method (love that doo-wop).

    What this list tells me is I don’t really remember much about 9 Types of Light. I will be sure to rectify that.

  30. I was really surprised to see “Dreams” off the list. That was the first song that I heard of theirs way back in 2004, and it absolutely floored me. I bought Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes on the strength of that song alone. In my opinion, the only songs that comes close to it are “Wolf Like Me” and “Staring at the Sun.”

    So at first I thought its omission was one of those “leave off the obvious choices” that pops up on these lists every now and again. But then I read the comments and was kinda surprised to see that only a few people even mentioned it. I was also surprised to see all the love for Dear Science, which I’m fond of, but thought was a somewhat disappointing follow-up to Return to Cookie Mountain.

    So, honest question, how does your opinion on the band reflect when you got into them? I swear to Chirst, I’m not trying to be a hipster asshole. Maybe what I thought was the critical opinion of their catalog was off. But I’m genuinely curious, because I’m usually not surprised by these things.

    • I got into TVOTR when Desperate Youth was getting heaped with praise. So DYBB and Young Liars were the only TVOTR albums I listened to for the longest time, and they’re not surprisingly my favorites.

      I’m right there with you on “Dreams” though. That song is spectacular and Tunde’s lyrics are just like, dude, lemme see your dictionary.

      I love Cookie Mountain too, but since I got an early leak that was sequenced differently than the end product, it makes for a weird listen. I kind of preferred whatever whack ass sequencing was on the leak I got back in early 06.

      • god, that leak. Wolf Like Me and Playhouses got their titles mixed, Tonight and A Method got their titles mixed, and some other weird shit was on that, too. It wasn’t until I actually bought the damn vinyl (that hardcover gatefold is just delicious) that I realized something was wrong.

    • Yes, Dreams should be on the list. But until I read your post, I forgot about it. Along with Ambulance, it was my favourite of DYBTB all through the summer I bought it. Which was the same summer I saw them at Roskilde. Man, that was some gig.

  31. No Dirtywhirl, No good.

  32. Maybe I’m biased, but I think “Ambulance” is their best song.

    The lyrics are poetry full of beautiful metaphors and juxtaposition.

    It’s beautiful and impressionable. I wish they would perform it more.

  33. 1: Halfway Home
    2: Young Liars
    3: I Was A Lover
    4: Staring At The Sun
    5: Wolf Like Me
    6: Wash The Day
    7: Blind
    8: DLZ
    9: Lover’s Day
    10: Province

  34. I could try really hard to make a top 9 but everything else would have to be tied for #10.

    Really astounded there is no mention of the 9TOL movie in the opening of this. For me, personally, it’s okay that all the songs sound like they fit on Dear Science because the “new thing” for the last record was the awesome film accompaniment. Brought some of the tracks into a new light (no pun? intended) for me.

  35. I’m glad second song ranked so high up on the list, 9 types of light is a good album yo

  36. Solid list, very much lacking:

    Blues From Down Here!
    Red Dress!
    Mercy!

  37. This band rocks. Staring At The Sun should be #1 in my book. A Method #2. But they rule,

  38. I found Nine Type of Light AND Dear Science to be patchy and a little underwhelming, so I’m surprised to see so many tracks from them on here.

    But yeah, “Halfway Home” and “Province” are absolutely amazing songs, so as long as those are on here I can’t really complain.

    • Wait, scratch that, one complaint – “Tonight” is the most beautiful song they’ve done a deserves a spot on here (preferably over “Second Song”).

  39. Great list, but missing Blues from Down Here. Especially this live version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vO8JzQdbTU

  40. Let The Devil In is a top 5 track by them, no doubt.

  41. ‘Dancing Choose’ is a blast, such a fun song. I like a lot of tvotr ballads but 9TOL just had too many of em, here’s hoping the new LP gets loud and weird!

  42. I love this list. I also love “Dancing Choose”. On SNL, when they performed that and “The Golden Age” from Dear Science, I was hooked. The synchronized clapping was so fun. And the length of Tunde’s arms is something I never realized until then lol. He’s such a character. I love him.

  43. Who the f*ck made this list? Where is Killer Crane?

  44. Best 3 1/2 minutes of live music I’ve ever seen on late night tv. It’s already been mentioned in these comments, but I thought I’d go ahead and post a link anyway….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvpGufrg_E0

  45. I know it’s not really in the canon of their greatest songs, but “New Cannonball Blues” is so much of a jam it could be made by Smuckers.

  46. Good list. I think I would have moved Halfway Home up to #1. Even though Return To Cookie Mountain is their best album, that opener of Dear Science is about as good as music gets. And I remember it being such a revelation. This was a song so familiar, so deeply based on TVOTRs strengths, but still taken so much further. It hits you right on your mouth in its first couple of seconds, then instantly feels pleasing, yet paranoid and uncomfortable. I love it.

  47. I put “Will Do” at #1, mahself.

    Also, add me to the “Stork & Owl” chorus.

    I’ve never really liked “Wolf Like Me.” Haters gonna hate, I know.

  48. I’m just getting into TVotR and the only album I’ve listened to so far is ‘Cookie Mountain’ (I’m gonna start listening to ‘Dear Science’ soon), but I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album where I thought that any song on the album could potentially be a single. It’s such an epic and cohesive collection of songs that I’ll probably cherish forever.

  49. if you play all the youtube links at once it is like the Tv on the radio-apocalypse

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