Other Books By This Author
Often when we say a record has "atmosphere," we mean it as a put-down. From Sgt. Pepper's to the present, a record's sonic appeal-- the effects, the mood, the spaces between the notes-- is inextricable from how it hits us. But when an artist pushes atmosphere in place of songs, it's frequently thought of as a crutch. Most listeners don't trust a mood to grab their hearts the way they trust, say, a human voice; nobody counts on production to deliver the "money note.
When I try to explain TV on the Radio to people who aren't into them, the first thing on the checklist is singer Tunde Adebimpe, a stoic romantic who falters but never whimpers. He's got about the best set of pipes in indie rock, yet on Return to Cookie Mountain his greatest strength lies in how well he stands back and blends in-- with the throatier Kyp Malone, guest singers including David Bowie, and, especially, with the atmosphere evoked by producer and noisemaker David Sitek. As the two founding members, Adebimpe and Sitek fit together like Jagger and Richards.
But where the two Rolling Stones projected snarling sex, these guys express In the original version of Return to Cookie Mountain that leaked this spring-- the one that kicked off at full throttle with "Wolf Like Me"-- they sounded like victory.
With that cut up front, you knew this was the great leap forward for which their last two records paved the way-- and when I say three records, I'm counting their scattershot sketchbook OK Calculator , which caught the band at its most "Hey, what can I do with this four-track? In retrospect, the other reason is that they were still using drum machines.
Entertainment Weekly. The Guardian. MSN Music.
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