2008

Dear Science – TV on the Radio (2008)

Verdict – 8.9 

“Dear Science, please start solving problems and curing diseases or shut the fuck up.” The note that producer Dave Sitek wrote in the studio garnered the title and general theme for the third album by American art rock band TV on the Radio. Instantly, the music and singing are at centre stage, from the loud and boisterous production to the urgent, angry lyrics. With Dear Science, they manage to strike a fine balance between accessibility and musical creativity, with all the songs being catchy and likeable, but laced with thorny lyrics and sophisticated and serious themes. As the two lead singers deliver time and time again, the production always keeps pace, which leads to a relentless album.

On Dancing Choose, they blare (in a half rap-rock way) out social commentary with potent lyrics (the decisions underwritten by the cash in his hand… Now I’m no mad man but that’s insanity) before the bleak chorus looking towards the future, “I’ve seen my palette blown to monochrome.” Album highlight, Golden Age, speaks of a utopia, a time when evolution achieves all its promises. Fitting with the theme of the album, it seems like they genuinely believe in the idea. Following that is the stunning ballad, Family Tree, about forbidden love, which grabs the most attention in the entire album due to its immediate difference to previous and future songs. Red Dress continues their disapproval of society in general, shouting, “Fuck your war, cause I’m fat and in love.”

The albums best track is provided in DLZ, an angry attack at seemingly all the world’s figureheads and powerful leaders. Fitting the theme of Dear Science perfectly, they ask questions of science and its promises, of leaders and their promises. Towards the end of the song, they start a half scream, half rap, as they directly rebel against it all. Against science (DLZ could stand for either Drop Landing Zone, or Designated Launch Zone), whose bombs which have been created to help mankind, are destroying it, and against the ‘Death Professor’, the leaders and figureheads. “This is beginning to feel like the bolt busted loose from the lever.” Science can do whatever it likes, they are content with life, “Your structure’s fine, my dust is better… Electrified, my love is better.” After this intense song, they end the album the only way they can, Lover’s Day, a celebration and direct song about fucking, “I’m gonna shake you, I’m gonna make you cum.”

 Yes, this is music that is as inventive and creative as it gets. Yes, they are writing lyrics with deep significance and meaning. This does not mean they aren’t limiting their accessibility, although bleak and depressing a large amount of time, Dear Science, was always bound to be popular, and along with other great rock bands of the decade, are creating artful and indie rock albums that appeal to the masses with its ambition. One of the most memorable albums released lately, this is one hell of a feat.     

Top Songs – Golden Age, Family Tree, DLZ

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