It’s certainly been a testing few years for New York indie-experimentalists ‘TV on the Radio’. 2013 revealed the surprise “adios” from long-term record company ‘Interscope’, their label since 2006’s ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’. Then came the tragic news of bassist’s Gerard Smith death from lung cancer. Some bands don’t recover from such defining moments. However, ‘TV on the Radio’ regrouped, signed to ‘Harvest’ and created ‘Seeds’, an album which is less experimental in nature than its predecessors and delivers a more mainstream feel.
‘Seeds’ has moments of quite infectious indie-pop and contains cleverly integrated chorus’s and hooks that take the band into unexplored territory. Their normal tinkering and experimentation takes a back seat as we’re presented with an album that isn’t about re-invention but about taking a small step towards an already well known pop genre. The result represents the bands most approachable LP to date. The electro-wizardry of ‘Careful You’, the impressive vocals on ‘Test Pilot’ and the delicate introduction to ‘Ride’ showcase the full breadth of the bands talents. It’s an unapologetic mixed bag of tracks that somehow make for a single product. ‘Happy Idiot’ and ‘Love Stained’ certainly stand out on the LP, with the former already indexed firmly under indie-disco and the latter showcasing an impressive falsetto from Adebimpe.
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There are two average moments on the album. Firstly, ’Right Now’ seems completely out of context with the remainder of the LP. It dips it’s toe too firmly into the pop pond and you wonder if it my drown the remainder of the album. ’Could You’ starts well but eventually succumbs to a plethora of horns that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Mark Ronson LP. They momentarily take the wind from the ‘Seeds’ sail but luckily strong song writing and production elsewhere saves this release.
While the album timidly crouches in the shadows of ‘Dear Science’ or ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’ it is testament to the band that it was made in the first place. This certainly isn’t a classic album but neither is it a bad one. There are moments of brilliance on the LP but there are also moments of ordinariness … thankfully the former outweigh the latter. ‘Seeds’ is out now and the full-track-listing is as follows…
2. Careful You
3. Could You
4. Happy Idiot
5. Test Pilot
6. Love Stained
8. Right Now