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19 octobre 2008

TV on the Radio "Dear Science"

Michael Lavine, Sunday paper, Sunday, October 19, 2008

The frequency with which major labels hit the elusive target of artistic credibility meshed with popular acclaim has shrunken to such a degree that when it happens, it seems like an anomaly. Factor in the unlikelihood of those few acts releasing follow-up albums in the “give us a hit” pipeline, and you can see how unusual TV on the Radio is.

Although the band’s third full-length album (and second for a major) is somewhat slicker, there are enough unexpected twists and non-commercial turns to make this a relatively risky proposition for a company as bottom-line orientated as Interscope.

There also aren’t many predominantly black groups on the contemporary rock scene, let alone those that fuse TVOTR’s diverse elements of electronics, Euro-pop, soul, hip-hop and edgy funk. Pushing the envelope while appealing to the masses is a tricky tightrope to walk, but the band manages to make it look easy, and guests (the Antibalas horns and a classical string quartet) provide additional backspin to songs that are unpredictable to begin with.

Singer Tunde Adebimpe shifts from a soul-caressed croon to a dark, almost John Cale talk-sung style, and, on “Golden Age,” to a Prince-ly falsetto. His diverse palette paints each tune with a slightly different tone, but there’s sense of continuity to the disc.

Tunes like the ballad “Family Tree” manage to balance elements of indie rock, classical and Peter Gabriel-influenced pop without falling into either, remaining true to TVOTR’s experimental roots while boasting (gasp!) singalong choruses and a knotty eclecticism that feels entirely natural.

3 STARS—Hal Horowitz

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