It’s been quite a long time since TV on the Radio released Dear Science back in 2008. While three years may or may not be considered a long time for some, it is still plenty of time for things to change, one of those things the sound of a band. As many fans know, the longer the time between releases increases anticipation and excitement for the record to release, but it also allows for some doubt to come into play: is this the band that you loved so long ago?
Nine Types of Light is both a yes and no answer to that question. When you press play on the cheekily named “Second Song,” you can’t be quite sure. Yes, everything is where it should be: the strikingly unique vocals, the textured guitars, and the occasional electronic noise. However, that furious energy that TV on the Radio brought to their last album seems to be missing. While you expect a fast and frenzied opening number, you get a well-reasoned and well-written slow burner, complete with that falsetto croon that this band is known for. For the chorus, the band brings back their traditional sound, and then lets it fall away on the verses and you can’t help but notice that this band seems to have both feet in different places, straddling that line between past and future. If anything, this combination of sounds is a great start, and is topped off by some horn work in the end.
As the album continues, it is clear that this is definitely a calmer approach to tunes than before. They chose to focus on what made songs like “Family Tree,” so wonderful on their last album; simplicity and elegance. “Killer Crane,” the longest song on the album, spans six minutes, sprawling with delicate vocals and even more delicate instrumentation. All the instruments, from the strings to banjo, all have room to breathe, and are not crowded by an overload of others.
While the first half of this album feels more meditative, the second half has that manic energy and fun that you’re used to associating with TV on the Radio. “New Cannonball Run” has those quick and sharp lyrics, while “Caffeinated Consciousness” is that number that you can always bob your head and tap your toes to.
In effect, while this band does sound fairly different at first, they bring it full circle. Their focus may be on the slower simplicity that they found, but this album is by no means a setback: it’s filled with a ton of detailed and enjoyable songs, so I suggest you take a listen.