?Dear Science,? More TV than Radio?

Jesse Sears

TV on the Radio has recorded strange, complex and genre-bending music since the band’s 2002 self-released debut, ‘OK Calculator.’ Listeners need look no further than the title of that album before the Radiohead comparisons begin, though New York-based TV On The Radio hail from decidedly different influences, blending hip hop, soul, electronica, R’amp;B and bits of nearly everything else into their strange musical soup.

With their second Interscope Records album ‘Dear Science,’ TV On The Radio continues to mature, both in their artistry and production techniques. The finished product is an unbalanced album, showing flashes of brilliance but at times leaving the listener behind by trying to do too much at once.

In ‘Dear Science,’ founding members Tunde Adebimpe (vocals) and David Andrew Sitek (programming, guitars, samples, bass, synths) continue to direct TV On The Radio’s core group of five multi-instrumentalists toward anything they feel like producing, always sounding confident the listener will follow intellectually and emotionally.

High points include ‘DZA,’ one of the most upbeat cuts where Adebimpe goes poetically introspective over a beat that sounds like Smashing Pumpkins duct taped to Massive Attack:

‘You force your fire then you falsify your deeds/ Your methods dot the disconnect from all your creeds/ And fortune strives to fill the vacuum that it feeds/ But this is beginning to feel like the dog’s lost her lead.’

Sadly, for every track that will have you hitting repeat four or five times, there is another that should have not made them album in the first place. ‘Dancing Choose’ come off as corny and slapped together, with a doodling guitar riff running throughout, not even in tune with the electronic backbeat and over-produced horn section.

TV On The Radio shines brightest when they are able to keep their tendency toward packing every second of tape with too many pretentious countermelodies in check.

There is no rule in music that states a group like TV On The Radio cannot make intellectually challenging, jam packed background music to their heart’s content, and if recent sales numbers for ‘Dear Science’ are any indication, they enjoy a devoted corps of fans.

Still, a group of musicians with an abundance of raw talent and ingenuity have produced a record that alternatively flies high and falls flat, and ultimately the listener is left with, ‘If only’hellip;’