‘Seeds’ is a record that was clearly created in the ashes of turmoil. TV on the Radio seemed to be riding a wave of hype following their critically acclaimed albums ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’ and ‘Dear Science’. However, disaster struck nine days after the release of the band’s fourth album, ‘Nine Types Of Light’, with bassist Gerard Smith succumbing to lung cancer aged 36. Taking a break after such a loss is understandable, with guitarist Dave Sitek taking more time to focus on his production skills and the rest of the band taking a break.
The band have returned three years later with ‘Seeds’, a return to form which represents the band picking up right where they left off. The years off seemed to have recharged the band, who sound youthful and energetic on the majority of tracks.
The opening track, ‘Quartz’, has a slightly gospel edge, complete with hand clapping and a choir-sounding backing. Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals on this track echo late-period Brian Wilson, with the song’s opening hinting towards Wilson’s ‘Our Prayer’. Adebimpe sounds like a man in despair, asking existential questions such as ‘how deep is the ocean?’ An accomplished track which firmly announces the return of TV on the Radio.
The lead single ‘Happy Idiot’, begins with a rollicking drumbeat reminiscent of recent club hits, which is followed by Gary Numan-esque vocal which draws as much from the contemporary as it does from electropop of the past. The song’s refrain is simple but effective, with Adebimpe’s vocals staying just shy of menacing. Adebimpe has described the record as ‘1000 per cent, without a doubt, the best thing we’ve ever done’, and the vocal delivery on this track definitely supports that claim. Utterly vital and entrancing music from start to finish.
Strangely for a band largely known for their politically charged songs about subjects such as ecology, the tracks on ‘Seeds’ are largely devoid of this, being much more introspective. This is likely to be largely down to the turmoil the band found themselves, with the chorus of ‘Trouble’ giving us a key insight to the mind-set of the band following their tragedy: ‘Everything’s going to be OK, I keep telling myself.’ This sounds like a band rebuilding themselves and attempting to move on with their lives, the first step of which is the release of this album. The quality of songs and the warm reception they are garnering is likely to do much to raise the spirits of a band escaping crisis.
Although a largely electronic record, the album seems to encompass all the sounds of modern music, a notable standout track being ‘Could You’, with a riff which sounds like it could’ve been taken straight from the fingertips of Roger McGuinn, sharing a kinship with one of the year’s best new bands, Temples. ‘Winter’ also stands out from the pack, with it’s opening heavy riff more reminiscent of blues rock than the art rock scene that TV on the Radio belong to.
Overall, ‘Seeds’ is a welcome addition to the TV on the Radio; an upbeat, synth-laden extravaganza of sound which will undoubtedly increase the band’s success and help them on the road to recovery. A band surrounded by disaster no more.