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Experimental rock band
adds a human touch

TV On The Radio - Dear Science
(Interscope Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 14, 2008
TV On The Radio

Review by Tony Bonyata

On TV On The Radio's third proper full-length release, Dear Science, the Brooklyn-based experimental rock collective continues to challenge and stretch the boundaries of where rock music can, and should go.

In the past the interracial quintet have mutated together a wealth of different music styles from over the last fifty years - from free-jazz, post-punk, electronica, indie rock, hip-hop and even street-corner doo-wop. But instead of just throwing these many variables into the mix to see what sticks, TVOTR instead have labored over the equations, the theories and the variables with the focused thought of a mathematical probabilist to come up with this rewarding solution of a record.

Bringing math, art, music and, yes, even science together for this release, TVOTR also add in, perhaps, their most powerful element into the mix - a decidedly human touch. Afro-funk permeates through tracks such as the soul-drenched "Crying," with its percolating electro-beats and chicken-pecking guitar line, as well as the jazzy hip-hop of "Red Dress" and "Golden Age," which sounds like it could have slipped in comfortably on Beck's sexed-up, funkified 1999 Midnight Vultures album. On the beautiful number "Love Dog," Tunde Adebimpe's soothing soulful voice marries perfectly with the song's gentle, yet forward-thinking brand of pop. Even the challenging closing track "Lover's Day" - with its dissonant jazz horns and propulsive, yet swaggering percussive beat - incorporates a strong human spirit as if a group of astronomers laid aside their telescopes in favor of joyously celebrating in the second-line of a New Orleans street parade. And to keep fans of their previous material sated, they've also included the angular math-punk-pop of "Dancing Choose."

Let's face it; art rock has never been for the masses. But with TV On The Radio's brilliant melding of artistic expression with so many elements of music through the modern ages this is about as close as we're gonna get.

TV On The Radio will be performing Wednesday, October 22 at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, Chicago, IL (312) 559-1950

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