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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 17, 2008 @ 10:46 am

    Reviews: TV on the Radio – Tripod, Dublin

    Fiona McCann

    They may have chosen to take the “difficult second album” phenomenon literally with 2006′s occasionally brilliant but largely frustrating Return to Cookie Mountain, but this year Brooklyn’s blisteringly experimental outfit TV on the Radio finally delivered on their unbearable promise with Dear Science, the significantly less-difficult third album, which seduces as much as it challenges.

    Headlining Heineken Green Synergy at a jam-packed Tripod, the art rockers have lost some of their thorns, but none of their edge.

    A song is still as likely to borrow from jazz as punk, the beat equally prone to swing or stutter, while instrumentalist David Sitek will reliably attach wind chimes to his guitar or attack a wet snare drum with what appear to be over-sized cinnamon sticks. No matter how layered the music, there’s always room for another idea. The difference now, though, is the mellow maturity that pulls off those combinations without agitation.

    Tunde Adepimbe’s lyrics retain a trace of the student radical, obliquely howling down capitalism and global warfare, but his voice has softened from shrieks and stabs into what you might call actual singing. Skittering across the stage as though moved by the vibrations alone, he bats the air during the elegant chaos of Young Liars , part preacher, part demonic possession.

    A judicious set even finds older songs subtly transformed. The Wrong Way , once a menacing concoction of jazz squawks and industrial throbs, is here accessible and declamatory, like a deconsecrated gospel hymn.

    Of the new material, Golden Age arrives with the unabashed urgency of disco, Shout Me Out struts with soulful purpose and Dancing Choose simply lets loose. It’s an ebullient display, but mercifully they can still be a little gauche. Banter is minimal, the surging Wolf Like Me is thrown out way too early, and in between the ferocious growl of DLZ , or sweet reverb of Love Dog , they somehow neglect to play Halfway Home – easily one of the best tunes of 2008. That’s TV on the Radio all over though; they are no longer a hard band to love, but they won’t make it too easy. – Peter Crawley

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