TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

written by: April 11, 2011
TV-on-the-Radio-Nine-Types-of-Light-album-cover Release Date: April 12th, 2011


Having asserted themselves as one of the most creative and vital forces of the past decade, TV on the Radio settles into a sweet spot on their fourth record, Nine Types of Light. Not quite as interested in “getting down” as they had been on their previous record, Dear Science, the band examines love in its purest form, bearing their souls in ways unseen up to this point.

Fat, funky grooves are often traded for or integrated into atmospherics and soulful crooning. Misleadingly titled opener “Second Song” seems to fuse the soft open of “Halfway Home” with the hook of “Crying,” the one and two tracks of Dear Science. But as opposed to the band’s generally hard-hitting, cryptic openers, this one immediately exposes a depth of heart with lines like “I’ll defend my love forever.” There’s a personal element to this track unlike what fans are used to. And it only goes deeper from here.

Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone don’t shy from a good ballad in the first half. With more than their fair share of gorgeous melodies and perfectly woven guitars, TV on the Radio get sentimental, singing words like “You’re the only one I’ve ever loved.”  It stands in stark contrast from the carnal desires exhibited in “Lover’s Day” and “Wolf Like Me.”

Rounding out the first half is “Killer Crane,” one of the most gorgeous things the band has ever produced, floating above time with reverberated piano and a chorus layered with some tasteful banjo. It’s all so serene, especially at the tail end of the chorus where Adebimpe sings, “As night heals the ground and the moonlight steals the sound I can leave, suddenly unafraid.”

Similar to David Bowie’s phenomenal Low, Nine Types of Light has two distinct halves. The first a lighter, ballad-ridden side and the second more up-tempo and aggressive.

Lead single “Will Do” serves as the transitional point. Adebimpe points out “I think we’re compatible/I see that you think I’m wrong” and in the chorus questions “What choice of words will bring me back to you?” The mood shifts from sweetness to frustration.

None of it rocks as hard as “Wolf Like Me,” but they get their point across. “Repetition,” however, does come close, starting with a groove where Dave Sitek’s guitars interplay with Malone’s falsetto and reaching its climax point with Adebimpe chanting “My repetition, my repetition is this” and Sitek letting loose before locking back into the groove to shut it down.

“Forgotten” brings the tempo down one last time, sinking into the lowliest of despair before closer “Caffeinated Consciousness” busts through to a renewed mental state as they sing “We will survive!” The jubilance of this track will make for a great closer to their live sets.

Nothing on this record may stand out as monumental, but all of the songs are excellent. TV on the Radio is largely affecting and for the first time seems to meet the listener on a personal level. There’s never been any shame in simply making a great record and that’s exactly what TV on the Radio have done with Nine Types of Light.

TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light Tracklist:

  1. “Second Song”
  2. “Keep Your Heart”
  3. “You”
  4. “No Future Shock:
  5. “Killer Crane”
  6. “Will Do”
  7. “New Cannonball Blues”
  8. “Repetition”
  9. “Forgotten”
  10. “Caffeinated Consciousness”