TV on the Radio
Dear Science


4.5
superb

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
September 25th, 2008 | 337 replies | 36,916 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Funky, soulful, poppy but not without considerable weight, Dear Science is one of 2008's best.

A friend of mine likes to tell me that I have a habit of, as he calls it, "killing flies with a sledgehammer". And I won't deny it. My opinions tend to pick up steam and gain momentum, and as a result I end up convincing myself of things that just aren't true. In one case, I almost had myself thinking that Return to Cookie Mountain was a bad album. It's definitely not a bad album. I was disappointed by it, and I still am, but all things considered, it's a pretty good album. It just didn't seem to click like Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes did. It felt grey, and in hindsight nothing really stood out. It was like they were holding back. Beyond "Wolf Like Me", "I Was A Lover" and "Blues From Down Here", I still have trouble distinguishing individual tracks. Return to Cookie Mountain lacked that certain je ne sais quoi, only je sais quoi: it just didn't have the same flair to it. No pop. Dear Science has all of this and more.

"What do they sound like?" they'd ask. "Uhhhh…," I'd reply. TV on the Radio has always been a band I have trouble describing and Dear Science doesn't really make it any easier. There's a lot to their sound, and yet they've never written anything particularly esoteric or challenging. Their sound is a cogent blend of indie rock, soul, electronic musics, post punk and even hip-hop, and Dear Science adds an extra dose of funk to the mix. But when you try to explain their sound using a laundry list of genres, you ultimately end up sounding like a complete and utter tool. Probably because on paper, it sounds like an absolute mess, and yet we end up with tracks like "Family Tree", an awesome low-key tune that sounds kind of like U2's "Beautiful Day" had they recorded it as a "Staring at the Sun" b-side. "Crying" slithers its way out of Sign O' the Times era Prince and executes its effective blend of funk and 80s barbershop without a hint of self-consciousness or restraint. TV on the Radio collaborate with afro-beat enthusiasts Antibalas on the latin-tinged "Red Dress" -- its sliding horns and jammed-out percussion sounding right at home behind Kyp Malone's unveiled cry of "*** your war, 'cause I'm fat and in love and the bombs are fallin' on me for sure". "DLZ" sounds like it could've been produced by DJ Shadow, while "Shout Me Out" is both campfire and spiritual.

Dear Science is not a shallow record. It's fun, sometimes danceable and always engrossing, but if anything the crystal clear production (a first for the band) does as much for the sometimes political sometimes emotional concepts as it does funky grooves and compositional weight. In short, Dear Science is a multifaceted approach to music. Not only does it effectively blend a myriad of seemingly conflicting sounds, but it does so tastefully and masterfully. Their penchant for sonic experimentation (they love to play with distortion and when I saw them this past July Gerard Smith had wind-chimes hanging off of his bass) has been toned down in favour of highlighting Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone sometimes crooned, sometimes sung, sometimes howled and occasionally rapped vocals. One of the best albums of 2008, Dear Science is an album you can ramble on about for nearly 600 words before you realize you forgot to mention "Golden Age", arguably the best song on the album. It gets better every time I listen to it and that's a trend that only seems to be continuing.



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user ratings (697)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Lewis P. STAFF (4.5)
All eyes ablaze the day you break your mold....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There it's up i should probably fix some things like re-word the part about U2. I might lose the comma in the album title because it looks stupid.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2008



6085 Comments


This made Return to Cookie Mountain better for me. They definitely complement each other well, I think. But yeah, this is fucking fantastic, certainly their best work yet and possibly of the year.

NortherlyNanook
September 25th 2008



1285 Comments


It sounds like these guys would be a real pain to describe, sound-wise. However, you did a good enough job, and I'll be looking into this.

Holy Staff-swarming, too.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2008



16081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This shit is real son.
Real.

Tyler
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Silly Adam Downer only give this a 4 I think he missed the memo.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2008



6085 Comments


even jeremy figured out what the fuck is up

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



3762 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heh, I always liked Return better than Desperate/Bloodthirsty and this is also a definite improvement.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

AtavanHalen
September 25th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hells yes! Glad to see people are loving this.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I enjoy quite a few songs on this album. I want to give it a headphone listen but this strikes me as less monumental then everybody and TVotR themselves think it is. The lyrics are just awful. It's typical whimsical hipster shit.

Tyler
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The lyrics are fine and definitely give it a headphone listen. It definitely warrants it.

beans
September 25th 2008



2332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i haven't heard this album from them, but after this review im planning on it

good

yet again

sgrevs
September 25th 2008



698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Until I read the last sentence I had planned on leaving a comment on how you didn't mention Golden Age.

Awesome review though, seriously, I agree with pretty much everything you said. Best of the year so far for me.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My favorite song is probably "Crying" but these lyrics are unforgivable.

[quote=Crying]Laugh in the face of death under masthead.
Hold your breath through late breaking disasters,
Next to news of the trite.
And the codes
And the feelings that meant to be noble
Like coke in the nose of the nobles
Keeps it alight.[/quote]

[quote=Crying]Gold is another word for culture.
Leads to fattening
Of the vultures
Till this bird can barely fly.

And Mary and David smoke dung in the trenches
While Zion's behaviour never gets mentioned.
The writings
On your wall[/quote]

Oh wow crucial cringe-worthy addition from probably the worst overall track on
the album...

[quote=Red Dress]Hey, jackboot/ fuck your war/ cause I’m fat and in love and no
bombs are fallin’ on me for sure[/quote]

Wow look how free-wheeling and hip that quipping is.This Message Edited On 09.25.08

kattunlover69
September 25th 2008



1194 Comments


im sure u all wanted to no my verdict on this, i checked out a couple tracks and it isnt meh type of pop,


Kattunlover69.

PS..

rasputin
September 25th 2008



14520 Comments


Good review, I shall have a listen.

Kiran
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't been able to give this a full listen yet because everytime I put it on I end up playing Staring at the Sun or Mr. Grieves.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
September 25th 2008



15727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Silly Adam Downer only give this a 4 I think he missed the memo.


dammit

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 25th 2008



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

bustin mah balls Greer, bustin my balls.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

astrel
September 25th 2008



2614 Comments


generic.

tcaporale
September 25th 2008



177 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is pretty excellent. I liked most of RTCM, but this blows most of their other material out of the water.

Halfway Home, Golden Age, and DLZ are the best songs on the record.

Great stuff.



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