First Impressions: Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio

I’ve listened to this album three times, and I’m not quite with the program – yet. It’s good, but not rocking my world. Yes, their last release, 2008’s Dear Science, is one of my favorite albums from the 2000s, so my expectations are high. But I’m missing the wonderful balance of drama and slinkiness, funk and seriousness that made Dear Science a joy.

Which is to say that Nine Types of Light is a serious endeavor with songs that often grind or drone, rather than pop the funk. “Will Do,” the single, captures this. The vocal rises and falls with the bass as the music chugs along, discordant guitars and keyboards adding dramatic punctuation. “Repetition” is about as fast as it gets. The sense of gravity also comes from the deep untreated vocals (e.g. “Keep Your Heart”) that live among the usual falsetto.
I suspect this may be one of those albums that reveals its treasures slowly. I do love the opening track, “Second Song,” and the slow “Killer Crane.” I can’t give it an unqualified endorsement, but I do recommend giving it a listen. I mean I give these guys a lot of credit: they’re ambitious and highly talented, able to mix a witch’s brew of different genres into a unique sound – something most artists couldn’t even begin to do. So even if this album doesn’t hit me right away, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

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