Review Summary: While good enough to appease the appetite of most fans, something here is definitely missing
Perhaps the only gripe with Nine Types of Light
is its broad creative stroke; TV on the Radio veer toward classic forms of Americana, shirking the brooding experimentation that Dear Science
perfected. While opener "Second Song" is definitely no "Halfway Home", it sets the tone for the remainder: a wordy, yet heart-felt folk intro transitions into a disco-inflected chorus in only a way Sitek and company can manage without being completely ridiculous. On all fronts, these combinations end up as ingredients to a self-contained and evident pop platter.
The TVotR of old is omnipresent as a binding agent, yet those looking to the past will be sorely disappointed. The sense of urgency that typified their last effort and Return To Cookie Mountain
is absent, in favor of insightful and largely downtempo meanderings. These relaxed passages are a sonic palette of swirling synths, stacatto and swaying guitars, and fuzzed out bass - all perpetuated by the soulful vocals of Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. The very same R&B vibe pervades the majority of the record, with the large exception of near-throwback tracks "Repetition" and "Caffeinated Consciousness". It is here where the faithful devotee can truly reunite with Dear Science
; the dynamics, theme, and tempo all hearken back to (suffice it to say) a more interesting time.
Nine Types of Light
is definitely not a bad album; but it is also, unfortunately, not the legendary discography continuation one would expect from such a talented group. While good enough to appease the appetite of most fans (and likely win more), something here is definitely missing. Be it progression or passion for art, it is the key unifying force behind TV On The Radio, and it's not here.