Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

I'm starting to hear talk of this past decade being officially the worst in recent memory.  Of course we spent those 8 years gritting our teeth and losing ground politically,  perhaps an ounce of forsight could have gone a long way, but I suppose people love to be wrong over and over again.  Anywho there's something to be glad about and their name is TV on the Radio.  

It was in these years that TVOTR grew from their humble beginnings, matured, outgrew the indie scene, and flourished in the mainstream.  Their self released OK Calculator was a sprawling mess of weirdness and fun that did little more than establish theri affinity for rigid experimentation and hint toward their talents.  With their Young Liars EP they showed they had grown and deserved their chance at the plate.

With their indie label debut Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, they emerged fully formed. It's major force is the beautiful harmony produced by singer Tunde Adebimpe's soulful and self assured poetics, and multi instrumentalist Kyp Malone's falsettos.  It is the unfortunate circumstance of many great bands that they have front man/singer who cant carry a tune or write a lick.  It's TVOTR's fortune that they are not only gifted musicians, artists, poets, technicians, and social commentators, but have commanding voices to boot.  The touching and sincere barbershop ballad Ambulance illustrates best that for all the novelty of their experimental approach, they truly need nothing other than their voices to create captivating music.

What comes through on Desperate Youth is a 60s era idealism tempered by a dose of  90/00's realism.  It's appropriatly hopeful and disappointed in turns, but never defeated.  It's woozy and lovey, and then angry and sarcastic.  It's summing up the century and saying lets move on.  Their name if nothing else roots their interests in the lessons of the 20th century while transcending them.  

It's this same idea which they expand upon with Return to Cookie Mountain, and Dear Science.  Looking at the world with that same disappointment and stubborn optimism, and over the past decade gaining the hearts of countless fans and the accolades of some the nations most well known and revered critics and publications.

In my opinion they've been making the same album ever since Desperate Youth(2004), honing thier craft in the process and utilizing their new found resources and friends.   It was Desperate Youth though that was their siren call, their mission statement, the prototype for their celebrated major label albums.  While each new album has pulled me in held me there, I'm still most in love with those first songs that were so perfect and different and right already. 

As the best of the decade lists roll I'm surprised and disappointed that I haven't seen them all over the place.  They deserve a better tribute than I have done or could do here.

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