TV On The Radio Nine Types Of Light Premature Evaluation

You should be able to tell if you’ll enjoy TV On The Radio’s fourth album Nine Types Of Light based on your response to the romantic, slightly cheesy aesthetic of the band’s “Will Do” video. You know, a shirtless Tunde Adebimpe with his shirtless lady enacting rituals from an erotic massage DVD. This really is an album for rose petals on the floor, pre-middle-aged men rediscovering their groove: Replace the “Dancing Choose” with some scented pillows and candles.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s interesting to remember when TVOTR first popped up in NYC in the early 2000s — there was a punk urgency and energy that’s gone elsewhere at this point. The guys still have a pulse, but it’s beating to the new age tempo of P.M. Dawn. Even on the more upbeat, chant-y closer “Caffeinated Consciousness,” a song title that sounds like the name of a progressive coffee shop in Vermont, we get this kind of air-freshened softness. You had that vibe surfacing in the past, especially for moments of Dear Science, but never has it been so sustained. It replaces Dear Science’s darkness with unmitigated joy. Remember the way something like “Family Tree” lulled while it broke your heart and, with its gallows references, sorta horrified? None of that here.

If you can follow the band into this smoother, more calmly seductive realm, you should be satisfied. The production’s great. The songs memorable. Opener “Second Song” has a falsetto-soul upswing and soft horns, one of those patented TVOTR hooks you’re bound to like. On the other hand, “Keep Your Heart” and “You,” both pretty and extremely understated, also find a way of slowly working themselves into your head. (Plus, as the world literally does fall apart, it’s sorta nice hearing someone croon: “I’m gonna keep your heart / If the world falls apart.”) Oddly enough, when they pick things up for the blustering rocker “No Future Shock” or mid-tempo “New Cannonball Run,” you might almost look forward to the slower-build jams like “Killer Krane” and “Forgotten.” It just feels more appropriate at this point.

All to say: A decade on, TV On The Radio are aging, sure, but gracefully; whether or not you like Nine Types Of Light depends largely on where you stand re: lite tantra rock. (And if you and your partner own matching monogrammed bathrobes.)

Nine Types Of Light is out 4/12 via Interscope. You can stream it at Rhapsody.

Comments (20)
  1. I’ve been listening to this album on repeat for two days and it’s really growing on me. Yes, it’s more touchy/feely than previous albums, but I’m fine with that, because a) who needs unrelenting darkness; not me, and b) TVotR is still the most creative band on the planet, and they own every moment on this album.

  2. I have been rotating this album with the new Fleet Foxes and Explosions in the Sky. After the first few weekend of that TVOR has been the standout. Not to say the others aren’t excellent too!


  4. There’s seriously not a dull moment on this album. Kinda wish it was getting the same anticipation as Helplessness Blues and Tomboy.

  5. Disagree on it being all “unmitigated joy” … there seems to be a lot of heartbreak, regret and longing going on in most of the songs.

  6. ddogdunit  |   Posted on Apr 4th, 2011 +7

    album is pretty damn good.

    also, vomitron at this line:

    ” (Plus, as the world literally does fall apart, it’s nice hearing someone croon: “I’m gonna keep your heart / If the world falls apart / I’m gonna keep your heart.”)”

    ^^^gross writing

  7. There are some bonnafide gems on it…most notably “second song” and “new cannonball run”.

  8. another solid release from an outstanding band!

  9. this is a good album to get stoned to and sit outside in a lawn chair while you watch the sun rise. Having that said, I feel like this should be a one off affair for TVOTR. For the next album, they need to include some head banging jamz like Wolf Like Me and DLZ.

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  11. still can’t get over the name “caffeinated consciousness”

  12. It’s nowhere near as good as Dear Science, but I dig this record. Took a couple times thru, but it stuck. “Repetition” is great.

  13. Album is a huge grower. First listen or two was super dissapointed in the direction, but totally clicked after a few listens. So many layers in each song and there are some MotherFudgin’ ear-worms on this joint. Thought “Repetion” was predictable at first, but have had “My Repetion, My Repetion Is This…” stuck in my head all day, mixing in with “No Future Shock” and “Keep Your Heart” all day.

    Will be interesting to see these songs Live.

  14. well everyone’s career losing steam at some point….

  15. Now I feel stupid for being single and having a monogram on my bath robe.

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