3 years ago, TV On the Radio were the only band I listened to. Their gloriously messy sound and distinct New York scene feel made them a wonderfully unique band capable of making some truly beautiful music. After being introduced to the heavy Return to Cookie Mountain at the tail-end of my College years, I already dug their sound, but when Dear Science dropped in late 2008, everything began to change. Dear Science was one of the best albums of the 2000s and an album I can honestly say is utterly timeless. It’s perfect in every way.
So after a long hiatus, news that the band were back making a new album left me in a fit of excitement as I had no idea just where they could go after their previous works. About a week or so after this news, “Will Do” was leaked onto the net and despite being a pretty great song, it left me with a sense of disappointment. It sounded like a song that would get nowhere near the final tracklisting of Dear Science, nor did it fuel my excitement for the next album. But then again, maybe it was a curveball like when LCD Soundsystem’s “Drunk Girls” was met with mass indifference and worry from the internet music community. Maybe the new album would be even more adventurous than the last 2 albums put together. If Talking Heads can be forgiven for True Stories* then the world can give Nine Types of Light a bye.
Well, Nine Types of Light wasn’t. It was an all too comfortable and easy album that lacked the immediacy and innovation of it’s predecessors. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t shit or anything, it just wasn’t what I was expecting or wanting. After a few listens, I left it to one side and forgot about it’s existence. In fact, the last time I listened to it was just after I found out Gerard Smith died of lung cancer, which was 9 days or so after the album was released.
I can’t honestly think of an album that underwhelmed me this badly in a while (maybe Girl Talk’s All Day which was also good, but couldn’t touch Feed the Animals), especially from a band who are pretty consistent with their works. Whilst I won’t say it’s a sign of the band’s downturn and plummet from greatness, I merely think it’s a misstep and that their future is still relatively bright. I’m sure their next album was be a true return to form with less of a sense of complacency and comfort to it.
They still have the prestigious honour of best Letterman performance EVER.
*True Stories has a few good songs on it (People Like Us,Wild Wild Life) but when you compare it to everything that came before it, it’s the first true sign that the once great band were getting a little bit balls.