Follow Us on Twitter

TV On The Radio - Seeds (Review)

TV On The Radio, Seeds

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TV On The Radio’s fifth album may have been born from a couple of years of torment and personal tragedy but it’s an emphatic return that offers plenty to enjoy, no matter how dark some of the lyricism remains.

The Brooklyn indie-rockers have overcome the death of bassist Gerard Smith (to cancer) in spectacular fashion, delivering an LP that doesn’t shirk from addressing some of their anguish, but which also serves as a potent reminder of why they are such a highly regarded act.

Opening track Quartz unfurls amid swirling synths, echoed vocal harmonies and a driving bass, before asking: “How much do I love you? How hard must we try to set into motion?” It then drops a xylophone-backed beat and insists “we should really give it up” over a chorus that combines the pain of failure with something punchy and deeply melodic.

It’s an arresting start that only gets better. Careful You has some solid synth waves and some delicious beats to offset lyrics that, once again, probe (“can I care for you?/should we stay, should we go, should we back it up and turn it around… and believe we can make it somehow”?). Once again, there’s an inherent suggestion of impending failure and the pain that it brings. Yet the synths and beats are so upbeat that you somehow don’t mind the despair. It’s effortlessly cool.

Could You opens amid some psychedelic guitar riffs that give it a retro, heady-rush quality that’s immensely enjoyable (while recalling some of Super Furry Animals), while Test Pilot soars on some beautiful synth arrangements and slick beats, as well as a vague sense of optimism (“hope it isn’t broken, try to keep it open”). Once more, the melodies are ridiculously tight, heightening the enjoyment value and the overall catchiness. We like the dip into falsetto territory too.

Ride offers another highlight, opening with some sombre piano playing, before transforming into a moment of breezy optimism that’s enhanced by the head-rush synth arrangements that kick in after the two minute mark. It’s a joyful record in every sense.

Right Now heralds a return of the glockenspiel beats before then effortlessly morphing into a disco-pop romp; Winter hits you with some of the grittiest guitar work on the LP and thrives on its punk-inflicted edginess, and Lazerray is another piledriver that finds the band at their most experimental and playful. It’s the moment when you could argue they’ve emerged from the darkness of the past few years and have rediscovered their groove and passion for experimentalism.

Trouble, meanwhile, slows down the pace to the easy-going mellowness that marked the early songs on the LP (as well as the sense of uncertainty in the lyrics), while title track Seeds rounds things off with another cool gem (complete with a doozy of a chorus).

In short, TV On The Radio have delivered a ‘comeback’ album that re-establishes them as one of New York’s great acts.

Download picks: Careful You, Could You, Test Pilot, Ride, Right Now, Winter, Trouble

Track listing:

  1. Quartz
  2. Careful You
  3. Could You
  4. Happy Idiot
  5. Test Pilot
  6. Love Stained
  7. Ride
  8. Right Now
  9. Winter
  10. Lazerray
  11. Trouble
  12. Seeds