TV on the Radio
Dear Science


4.5
superb

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
October 5th, 2008 | 66 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: All eyes ablaze the day you break your mold.

On their breakthrough 2006 release, Return to Cookie Mountain, TV on the Radio quickly explained their motifs in one fell swoop: “I was a lover before this war.” Bathed in horn-blasted, inky melodies and muddled production, Return to Cookie Mountain kept afloat, above what could have been a dreary postcard from the far side, because of the hope stuck there. In the two years since Kyp Malone uttered those words, the elements they transposed on American ideology have shifted, but so has the America they live in: from the opening bars of “Halfway Home,” a steady house rave set off with surfer pop backing vocals and Malone’s soulful verses, it’s evident that this is no ordinary TV on the Radio. If remorse set off “I Was a Lover,” then disdain lights this fuse: “The lazy way they turned your head into a rest stop for the dead.” Before the song is over, it’ll have climaxed into a rhythmic wet dream and set the bar increasingly high for what is to follow on Dear Science, a politically intriguing postcard from our backyard. TV on the Radio match it, step for step.

For all its musical precedents (first and foremost, this is an auspicious, brilliantly-executed dance album), what makes Dear Science so hefty and relevant is its beating heart. Vocal duo Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone turn every track into a different observation, charting their trajectory with an uncanny ability for flair. They cover so many genres here (they leap without reservations into up-tempo soul numbers, R&B and funk) that it’s easy to overlook that there is something being said here. “Sly” would accurately describe the breathless Prince number, “Crying,” where they choose to mock our laziness in the album's catchiest number (“Time to take the wheel and the road from the masters / … / and stop our crying”). Later in “Red Dress,” the tribal rap scheme builds an appropriate, self-aware cockiness that evokes stereotypes through Malone’s suggestive but disturbingly real lyrics: “Fuck your war / ‘cause I’m fat and in love and no bombs are fallin’ on me for sure / But I’m scared to death that I’m livin’ a life not worth dying for.”

Moments like these help to build a living, thriving metropolis for Dear Science to live in, one not shy of tender and heartbreaking moments. When Adebimpe drops into a baritone at the end of the first verse in “Family Tree,” a grand, classical piano ballad replete with string sections and a wonderful guest in Katrina Ford, it stresses the distress of praying to anyone, anywhere for comfort: “It’s echoing moonlight on to the blue nightmare of your heart / in cozy red rainbow / it’s shaking off halos / and the memory of our sacred so and so’s.” The broken chords and string sections that shape the atmospheric “Stork and Owl” are unshakeable. But the most powerful statements come at full force, most notably Jaleel Bunton’s steel-cut percussion and handclaps in “Dancing Choose” that detail a greedy, self-serving materialism through Adebimpe’s jagged flow (“Corrupts his hard drive through the leanest months / shells out the hard cash for the sickest stunts / on aftershave, on gasoline / he flips the page and turns the scene”). When he positions the ideals of a generation growing into this war with, “Angry young mannequin / American, apparently / still to the rhythm / better get to the back of me,” his lack of faith isn’t subtle.

By the time Dear Science winds down and finally explodes with the sensual, nearly masochistic “Lover’s Day,” it’s easy to meet TV on the Rado’s dense masterpiece halfway. I mean, isn’t this the same band that seemed so impenetrable and unnerving, crying out, “I was a lover before this war”? But I guess that’s the change we’ve undergone in just that two year period, and TV on the Radio above all seem to realize that now more than ever we need to embrace, not isolate, each other. If only “DLZ” didn’t cleanly jerk away the veil, revealing instead a cynical undercurrent to Adebimpe’s pondering, strangely appropriate in the wake of an escalating economic crisis: “Fortune strives to fill the vacuum that it feeds / but this is beginning to feel like the dog’s lost her lead.” And that’s after the slow-burning “Golden Age” opens a pop chasm with the strobe light precision of its chorus (“There’s a golden age coming 'round”), and it gets all blow’d up like a ghetto blaster.

For all the brain brewing underneath the surface (even deeper still, but TV on the Radio will reveal their secrets in due time), Dear Science works best not because of all it aspires to be but all that it is inspired to do. I become a bassist jamming out to “Dancing Choose,” my dashboard my drum set when “Shout Me Out” jumps ship from funky alternative rock and the percussion explodes. And this isn’t counting how nerdy I get trying to explain the theory that, if you invert Dear Science, it links thematically to Return to Cookie Mountain. I’m convinced. Is that weird? I don’t know. Let’s just leave it to TV on the Radio to sum this bad boy up: “And you’ll all dance to this without making a fist.” Maybe it’s about time you do.



Recent reviews by this author
Jenny Hval VisceraYALL Drink From Between Our Hair
Deerhunter Halcyon DigestWavves King of the Beach
Circulatory System Signal MorningAnimal Collective Here Comes the Indian
user ratings (705)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Tyler Munro EMERITUS (4.5)
Funky, soulful, poppy but not without considerable weight, Dear Science is one of 2008's best....


Comments:Add a Comment 
plane
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2008


6094 Comments


Okay, fixed it up a bit.

AtavanHalen
October 5th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not bad.
I still wanna see a negative review for this, though, just to rustle some feathers.

JohnXDoesn't
October 5th 2008


1282 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review. based on their last pile of poo (the horrid cookie mountain) i wanted to dislike this album to no end. i went in with a bias against the band, even. but i just can't not like it. its too infectious

DFelon204409
Emeritus
October 5th 2008


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

atavan, I'm the lowest current rating and I'm at a 2.5, average. I don't think you're catch a negative staff review.

AtavanHalen
October 5th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Why don't you do it?

DFelon204409
Emeritus
October 5th 2008


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

No I'm saying my review is not going to be negative. It's going to be middle of the pack and what I've gathered from other staffers, there probably won't be a negative review in the bunch. It's up to a valiant user.

rasputin
October 5th 2008


14546 Comments


That's if any valiant user actually thinks negatively of it!

robin
Emeritus
October 5th 2008


4249 Comments


it doesn't deserve a negative review

AtavanHalen
October 5th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No I'm saying my review is not going to be negative. It's going to be middle of the pack and what I've gathered from other staffers, there probably won't be a negative review in the bunch. It's up to a valiant user.

Compared to these two reviews, your review will certainly be negative. Should go for it, especially if you're the lowest rater of this.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2008


17920 Comments


yes dfelon please give us your heralded opinion

plane
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2008


6094 Comments


Should go for it, especially if you're the lowest rater of this.

I'm sorry, but this is really stupid.

Doppelganger
October 5th 2008


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

KILL THE HYPE
KILL THE HYPE
KILL THE HYPE
KILL THE HYPE
KILL THE HYPE!


Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2008


15738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Digging: Spazz - Crush Kill Destroy


lol

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Doppelganger
October 5th 2008


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

:X :X :X

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2008


15738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stellar review btw, Mr. Lewis. Such a great album, all the songs are just really solid. This is in my top 5 for 08 atm.

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 5th 2008


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album and review are rly good

jrowa001
October 5th 2008


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i checked out the bonus songs and theyre pretty good. both remixes for Crying and Dancing Choose are tight

brandtweathers
October 5th 2008


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ugh i don't want to like this

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 5th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

you know you don't have to like it just because your favorite reviewer reviewed it

brandtweathers
October 5th 2008


2007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^its more to do with the hype. whenever the hype machine pumping out the noise, i tend to be reclusive/anti the crowd's opinion (ie bon iver... damn ex)



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy