TV on the Radio

Return To Cookie Mountain | Interscope
By MATT ASHARE  |  October 10, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars

KINKY: If it weren’t on Interscope, Return to Cookie Mountain would probably be the indie album of the year.

Fearful that a major-label deal has ironed the kinks out of this Brooklyn-based collective? Not to worry. Singer Tunde Adebimpe and multi-instrumental partner David Andrew Sitek have used the extra cash to refine their electro-organic complexity and take their electro-punk to a new level of sophistication. The core band add visceral live drums to the programmed beats, deep-bottomed bass to the grooves, and everything from flute and cello to an already eclectic soundscape that changes texture without warning, moving from soulful to sad, ominous to angry, and discordant to dreamy. Adebimpe has a voice as malleable as Sitek’s sonic palette, and he’s as comfortable delivering his impressionistic lyrics in a deep, haunted croon that often brings to mind Peter Gabriel as he is layering falsetto harmonies with an almost choirlike effect. Indeed, when David Bowie’s voice first emerges on the duet “Province,” it’s easy enough to mistake it for just another of Adebimpe’s many guises. If it weren’t on Interscope, Return to Cookie Mountain would probably be the indie album of the year. Experimental without sacrificing anything in terms of hooks or melody, passionate yet never overbearing, and clever without giving in to the urge to indulge, it places TV on the Radio on a plane with no peers. There’s so much to take in that the lyrics might not resonate immediately. “I was a lover before this war” is all Adebimpe says in “I Was a Lover”; the rest of the song’s anti-war sentiment is written into his tone.

TV on the Radio + Grizzly Bear | Paradise Rock Club, 969 Comm Ave, Boston | October 14 | 617.931.2000

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