We all know and love TV on the Radio, right? So it seems only natural when one of the band’s most integral members, guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone (recording as Rain Machine), steps out and releases a solo record we should take notice, right? Well, you would be about half right.
The first half of Rain Machine’s self-titled debut (released this week on Anti-) is good, maybe even better than good. The songs are the polar opposite of what would be released as a TV on the Radio track. They lack the density and the sense of paranoia that the band has finely crafted over the years. Malone, as Rain Machine, writes songs with room for the listener to breathe. The tracks almost seem like skeletons of TVOTR songs, waiting for Dave Sitek to fill them in. Standout tracks include ‘Give Blood’, ‘Smiling Black Faces’ and ‘Driftwood Heart’ which easily rival anything Malone’s main band have ever released. Seriously, these songs are that good.
But after track six, ‘Hold You Holly’, something happened to the album. It appears that Malone, for lack of a better word, stopped giving a fuck (Sorry, Ma! If you need proof I’ll let you listen. The expletive is warranted.). The last six tracks make up for 35 minutes of the albums one hour running time, and boy are they painful. The seventh track, ‘Desperate Bitch’ could’ve easily had four minutes shaved off it’s almost nine minute life span. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lengths of the tracks that get my goat, it’s the lack of respect for my time. Author Kurt Vonnegut believed, and I’m paraphrasing here, that you should make your writing (here, songs) easy for your audience to ingest, because you are asking a lot for them to pay attention to you. If you are going to write a 1,000 page book or 9+ minute song you makes sure fill with as much meat as possible (TWSS!). Malone has a blatant disregard for this listener’s time.
The last half of this album is pure, self-indulgent jack-assery. Sorry, Kyp, I don’t mean to rain on your slow, boring parade. You are not Curtis Mayfield, you do not have the fortitude for an extended, meandering jam. I used to have a theory that every song was someone’s favorite song. For the million of people that love U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ there was always one that loved ‘Lemon’. But Kyp Malone disproved this theory. It is impossible for anyone to like the last six songs on this album, let alone having them be someone’s favorite song (It’s a fact, I did extensive research.)
A five to six song EP or a couple of singles would have easily brought three to four stars, but as a full length, those first six songs just aren’t strong enough to carry the bloated dead weight of the rest of the album.