Album Review: TV on the Radio lights up a gray spring with Nine Types of Light


On April 11, TV on the Radio released its fifth studio album, Nine Types of Light. The Brooklyn-based band is known for melding genres including indie rock, funk, blues and soul. The boys certainly brought it on their newest release, whetting fans' appetite for an album that is equal parts danceable tunes and soulful ballads.

It has been three years since TVOTR's 2008 release, Dear Science, produced popular hits like "Crying" and "Golden Age." Though critically acclaimed, Dear Science left listeners missing the raw, seductive vocals heard on 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain in songs like "Wolf Like Me" and "Dirtywhirl."

Nine Types of Light is a return to what fans have come to expect from the band. Right off the bat, the album opener "Second Song" pulls out every trick in TVOTR's book. The track begins slowly; Tunde Adebimpe's steady baritone speak-sings over easy electronic beats. One minute in, the song becomes undeniably expressive of the band's style – Kyp Malone breaks out in his signature falsetto and croons over a chorus that will be stuck in anyone's head after just a few listens.

The next two songs take a slower pace reminiscent of some of the material from Dear Science, but the fourth track picks up the lull. Featuring futuristic drumbeats and vocal distortion, the aptly-titled "No Future Shock" pulls listeners back in with its grinding seduction. This sensual style is also found in "New Cannonball Blues" and "Repetition."

"Will Do," the album's lead single, opens with Adebimpe's easy vocals against the steady beats that pervade the album. The lyrics are catchy once again and detail the efforts of the speaker to convince his lover to stay with him. "Anytime will do / my love," Adebimpe sings in the refrain.

The narrative style of songwriting is the common thread that holds the album together; the band has even created videos for each song as a part of a full-length film that can be viewed on their website.

Another standout track from Nine Types of Light is "Caffeinated Consciousness." The vocals featured in the verses are brash, but the chorus contains balancing smooth lines. The track works perfectly as a closer, encapsulating virtually every aspect of the band's style.

Nine Types of Light is the perfect spring release. Its danceable tracks will carry you right through to the summer and its slower ballads will ease you through the rest of the gray days of spring. The album is a happy medium between the super-polished Dear Science and the gritty Cookie Mountain.