There are some bands that seem immune to criticism. TV On the Radio, a Brooklyn-based experimental indie group, is one of them (other examples include Radiohead, the National and the White Stripes). With the release of its fourth studio album, "Nine Types of Light," the group appears to be, once again, above anything short of critical acclamation.
While TV's previous releases have been commendable, the contradicting underground/mainstream status that is becoming increasingly commonplace has created a blind predisposition on the part of many to unconditionally love "Nine Types of Light." The only problem with this is that the album isn't good.
"Nine Types" is, for the most part, an overproduced, syncopated mess. The guitars and synths are obnoxiously distorted to no end, transforming TV's signature muffled sound into a perpetual headache. The album opens with "Second Song," its title purely for the sake of irony. "Second" shifts between a subtle low-fi indie sound and a funk groove. It's actually one of the album's better tracks. Then the overdramatic syncopation sets in. "Keep Your Heart" personifies this. "You" will leave the listener wondering, "What is wrong with my speakers, and why is my player stuck on a 30-second loop?" The distortion and redundancy are irksome.
"Killer Crane" is the album's diamond in the rough. It is "Nine Types' " only moment of classical and acoustic experimentation, and, for the most part, artistic genius. These six minutes will momentarily erase any criticisms. Then reality sets in. Lead single "Will Do" is the epitome of "Nine Types of Light's" flaws. Dull, ostentatiously distorted and featuring omnipresent drum machines, "Will Do" is the appropriate response to a request to turn off "Nine Types." Following "Will Do" is the painfully digital "New Cannonball Blues." TV On the Radio almost pokes fun at its work by titling the next two tracks, "Repetition" and "Forgotten." The uptempo "Caffeinated Consciousness" possesses the majority of traits that bring "Nine Types" down but is well executed and somewhat enjoyable, bringing this futile album to a positive conclusion.
To summarize "Nine Types of Light," it sounds like the National (today's most overrated alternative band) had a shot of espresso, bought a drum machine and mutilated the wiring of its amps. Truly a disappointment from an honestly talented and creative group.
Alex Eaton is a junior at Clarence High School.
TV On the Radio
"Nine Types of Light"