A pall falls over the latest offering from TV on the Radio with the passing of longtime bassist Gerard Smith from lung cancer. It certainly strikes a blow with many fans that the tripped out Brooklyn quad who are most known for their tripped-out sound and their unabashed sonic manipulation coming out nowhere three years ago to deliver 2008’s Best Album of the year, Dear Science. With critical acclaim at their back, the boys return for another jaunt into their weird funky headspace with Nine Points of Light, an amazing entry for the band and a good lasting memory of Smith’s work with the band.
Textured in the way that only TV on the Radio can do, New Types is wonderfully extra-terrestrial to Dear Science’s plaintive post-modern. This is cosmic psychadelia hippie-swag from the future. In places where the prior albums were wistful, Lights is funky. Horns blare in Second Song as Tunde Adebimpe surfs the dynamics of high and lows. Caffinated Consciousness sounds as wired as the title makes it out to be. YOU thump with a boom-bap drums, plinky bass and guitar so fuzzy it lumberjacks on the weekends while Adebimpe floats ethereal over the track like some phantasmagoric ghost in David Bowie’s dreams.
Despite the out-there aesthetic, lyrically the songs are as connective as muscle fibers. Ain’t nothing here the audience can’t attach themselves to as tracks talk about displacement (Second Song), alienation (Forgotten) and repeating missteps (Repetition) with a hopeful underpinning that slips thorough the jaded cracks like morning around the edges of a window.
TV on the Radio always plucked something of optimist in me. Their music is by no-one’s definition “sunny”, but there’s something hopeful about the way the freeform blast of jazz-inspired art-rock filters into my ur-mind.
But that could be the space-ray talking.