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TV on the Radio: Dear Science

TV on the Radio: Dear Science

Release Date:2008

By Michael Byrne | Posted 9/24/2008

First, the bad news: Dear Science has a rap. It's not a good rap. It almost sounds like Billy Joel's near-rap in "We Didn't Start the Fire," which is not OK at all. And it's a waste of Tunde Adebimpe's otherwise highly insurable voice. That rap--a frenzied, rapid chant, at least--is something of an album signifier. Like, can you imagine any other TV on the Radio song ever that could support something like that? That's that concise, that down-to-business? Not really. TV on the Radio was never anything like inaccessible, and in many ways Dear Science is "vintage" TVOTR, but this is sharper and, well, familiar. Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes didn't have a whole lot of words that went with it, while this has, at least, "funk," "pop," and "rock" scrawled in not big but plenty visible lettering.

Good on it--TVOTR at least isn't mired in its brief but formidable back catalog. This is embellished as all hell; not dense like Return to Cookie Mountain was dense, but ornate. The production is just nuts with strings, horns, and about every other sound you can squeeze in without overflowing into a holy mess. See the above mentioned track, "Dancing Choose," and its, yes, rap, but more so the busy reed tonnage in the space that five years ago would be TVOTR's signature droning synth melody (which is still around plenty). Or, see "Golden Age"--and you will see plenty of it in the upcoming months, guaranteed--which just gets everything right; bewildering in its efficiency, the track is like a four-part opus not crammed but puzzle-placed into four minutes. And, like most of Dear Science, it's exhilarating.

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