TV On The Radio
Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, 180G Black Vinyl 2LP
The word I keep hearing for this band is "soulless." It's true that the Young Liars EP had a metallic sheen, a mechanical repetitiveness that both boosted and encased the silver-throated vocals of Tunde Adebimpe. The songs were full of distance and voyeurism, as if Adebimpe was stuck on his own satellite, watching lovers from afar. When he got close to a woman, on the stunning soliloquy "Blind", he couldn't close the deal without giving up the truth: "My love is a suckerbet." But that ain't soulless.
Another description that never rang true was the comparison of Adebimpe's voice to Peter Gabriel-- a decent match in timbre, but Adebimpe's such a different person that I just can't hear the likeness. This isn't a man who would go on stage dressed like a flower. Instead, Adebimpe sounds like a superhero-- a troubled, Batman-style superhero, who can rescue the girl but frets over whether to take the grateful French kiss when they hit safe ground. Nobody with his talents and forthrightness could also have insecurities, yet that was what the lyrics made us believe. His vocals resonate because of his identity: He towers over most vocalists, not just for his skill, but because he's so transparent behind it.
The band's full-length debut may be one of the most eagerly awaited records of the year. Until now, TV on the Radio have only flashed their talent: David Andrew Sitek's chugging beats and harsh grey textures, Adebimpe's voice, and new member Kyp Malone on vocals, guitar, and even more loops. So the final product, Desperate Youths, Blood Thirsty Babes, can't help but sound like a curveball when held against the flawless Young Liars, the monumental expectations, and the fact that they're still indulging their growing pains.