Here’s a question I hadn’t really considered until just now: Does TV on the Radio constitute a supergroup? There’s some obvious evidence to the contrary, specifically that none of its members were famous before the band. And the term “supergroup” is so loaded that it shouldn’t be applied liberally. But all of its members have robust solo careers—since 2008’s Dear Science, Kyp Malone and Dave Sitek each released solo albums. Even more illustrative, though, is how each member seems to refer to the band in interviews: Malone, Sitek, and Tunde Adebimpe seem continuously shocked that they are still together, as if TV on the Radio were a side project that kept growing.
This week’s release of Nine Types of Light should make fans very happy that the band is still together. Despite the broad tastes and styles of the band’s members, TVOTR has developed a coherent sound that is uniquely its own, which its members would be unable to match without one another. Indeed, the band’s different sounds have blended together so well that I often can’t even tell who is singing on a particular song.
On past albums, the multitude of styles that TVOTR comprises has led to songs that tend to change on a dime—like “King Eternal”—or that tend to sound frenetic, like a lot of songs being played at once—like “Dancing Choose.” Nine Types of Light, on the other hand, has a more relaxed, deliberate sound. The differences are clear from the very beginning. “Second Song,” the first song on the album,* begins slowly, with just Adebimpe’s voice over a lone note, before adding a crisp, simple drumbeat. Of course, the song gets more complex than that, but it is essentially built around the vocal interplay between Adebimpe and Malone, creating a rather straightforward song. Continue reading »