Music News

TV on the Radio

From the department of "You can't teach epic,' it's either bestowed on you or it ain't": In a single five-song EP, TV on the Radio has set up camp to scale an art-rock Everest whose previous existence no one but Björk fanatics noticed. Well, this expedition's from Brooklyn circa now and more embedded in the Rock, so somebody might now. It's got chutzpah, a media-saturated name mockingly staring down the neighborhood's "the" epidemic, and music seemingly too passionate for the fashion-show circuit (you can't watch radio waves). So arguing whether the world needs Nü New York's take on the beats and prog-rock of post-Underworld sad sacks like Mount Florida is beyond the point. In the Big Apple's mostly myopic, '80s remix revival, even the good ones are kinda guilty, a provincial footnote of nouveau Gotham. Whereas on Young Liars, Tunde Adebimpe's vocals and David Sitek's arrangements are footnotes to nothing -- more like passages to a grand fucking canyon.

Sitek's already entered Brooklyn lore for producing and mixing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rock squeal into a comfortably thorny sound. And yes, that is the Yeahs' Nick Zinner appearing here, adding rhythmic shards to "Staring at the Sun," a post-punk house anthem shoe strung together to be sung Zep-like from barren cliffs toward the miserable Gods. Sitek stitches the elements together, and Adebimpe lets loose like Security-era Gabriel, with no hints of smirk in his melodic banshee wail. They ride the mojo electro-Burundi, Adam Ant-style on the opening "Satellite," then harness it into an analog keyboard pagans-facing-down-death chant on the title cut. So when TV on the Radio wink at the magic mountain on the secret track, an a cappella reading of the Pixies' "Mr. Grieves" that's equally indebted to swamp gospel, Meredith Monk and Jamie Lidell, their reach inescapable and five songs' worth of glory theirs.

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Piotr Orlov