TV on the Radio return in 2011 with their latest album Nine Types of Light. The Brooklyn based band has created another album that for the most part stays true to their underground hits Return to Cookie Mountain and Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes with its combination of toe-tapping beats and nostalgic blues-rock.
Following on from the huge critical success that was 2008s Dear Science, the TVOTR fanatic might cry bloody murder as the the band inches ever so slightly closer to the mainstream with its greater focus on pop sensibilities. There is no doubt that the last two albums have seen a digression from the art-rock style that saw TVOTR become such a great underground success.
Nine Types of Light opens in a softly spoken contemplative manner about the daily grind of life. It slowly rises with a piano and guitar now entering the song. The lyrics change tone to almost inspirational with "And then the light shines/It's gleaming like a bottle/And lord knows I'll tackle it full throttle". It then drops seamlessly into the chorus, driven by a horn sequence which feature prominently throughout the album. 'Keep Your Heart' has great catchy hooks while the song is driven by synths that create a background wall of sound.
After this, 'No Future Shock' introduces a new aspect to the album. With loud lyrics and a driving beat, as well as a rap sequence this would be sure to get anyone on their feet. This is essentially a dance song with lyrics you might expect to hear on the dance floor at any club: "drop/and bounce/and shake it shake it like it is the end of time".
Following this, the next track, 'Killer Crane' returns the album to its previous mellow feel. It slowly ambles along in a nostalgic manner with lyrics about sunshine and memories that fade away. 'Will Do' is fairly unimaginative and uninspiring. Fortunately the following track is probably the best on the album. 'New Cannonball Blues' switches between glitch electronic beats and brass accompaniments. The perfectionist production that producer David Sitek has become renowned for returns here. It feels like every sound and instruments has their distinct purpose which has been lacking on previous tracks.
Nine Types of Light might leave the hardcore 'TV on the Radio' fanatic feeling short changed. There is some undoubtedly great material here but the extreme attention to detail that was heard in previous albums is distinctly missing. It's not that the album is poor, rather disappointment that such a progressive band as TVOTR have covered little ground since their last release.