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Eight things you should know about the ten songs on the new TV ON THE RADIO album, Nine Types of Light (released April 2011 by Interscope):
1. This TV On The Radio album is a lush and beautiful album that stands apart from the group’s previous work. If their other albums had shades of dystopia and distress, this album, sung by Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, is filled with songs about longing and love.
Of the track “You,” Tunde explains, “It’s a song about the feeling you get sometimes when you’re expressing how much you care about someone but resorting to these beautiful sounding lies, [like] ‘You’re the only one I ever loved?’ It’s a terrible thing to say to someone because it’s most likely not true.”
2. Nine Types of Light is the fourth album from TV On The Radio. You will want to refer to it as the “fourth proper studio album” from TV On The Radio; those albums were preceded by an EP titled Young Liars and an 18-track handmade CD called OK Calculator that was “released” by being hidden in random sofa cushions of New York coffee shops. Enhancing nearly every aspect of their Shortlist Prize-winning Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain was released to crazy universal acclaim.
Nine Types of Light is the follow-up to the band’s gorgeous, glorious 2008 release, Dear Science, which proved to be its breakout release. Dear Science’s widespread success did not prevent anyone from referring to TV On The Radio as a “Brooklyn band.” That is not a bad thing; the group – Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, Dave Sitek, Jaleel Bunton, and the late Gerard Smith – is indeed from Brooklyn.
3. But sometimes it’s ok to leave. The band recorded Nine Types of Light in Los Angeles, the first time they recorded outside of Brooklyn. In 2010, the group’s multi-instrumentalist, producer, and sometimes beat-boxer Dave Sitek moved to Los Angeles because that’s where the money he wanted a change of scenery. Nine Types of Light was recorded at his home studio.
4. TV On The Radio do not write traditional pop songs. Often, they change direction two or three times in one song. Distorted guitars, sauntering and reverberating bass, TVOTR tunes are just-barely containing an explosive amount of energy underneath itself – and that tension is nothing less than thrilling. On this album, the group takes an admittedly simpler approach to some of their songs. “I think the songs on this album, to me, maybe sound simpler,” Tunde says. “But it just might be that we have gotten better at what we do.”
5. Nine Types of Light might sound like a peculiar name for an album. Perhaps a reference to a core scientific principle on the refraction of sunlight. Or a grand ideology of film or photography techniques. But the album title actually isn’t a reference to anything specific, the band says. It holds no cryptic meaning. “It’s something that kept circling around in my head,” Tunde says. “It struck me as odd that that phrase, when you keep it to just nine types of light, it’s excluding a billion other types of light. I like how it’s a little slippery.”
6. There is a cycle that a band goes through with each release that involves recording an album, releasing it, and then touring behind it. For a group like TV On The Radio with a loyal and growing fan-base, that cycle can last about two years, which is an awful lot of time to spend with people in a highly-creative environment. “After the last show (for Dear Science), I just wanted to do anything that wasn’t this,” Tunde explains. “It was such an intense experience – not bad or good necessarily, just intense.” According to Gerard Smith, “It allows us to do the other things we want to do, or to just decompress, and then come back to the band with some focus.”
7. As celebrated and wonderful as TV On The Radio is, the entity is not enough to contain the entire creative thirst of its members. In between albums, Tunde and Gerard wrote and composed music for The Lottery, a documentary that looks at public education through the eyes of Harlem’s Success Academy annual intake lottery. Gerard spent time making music on his own and producing new music from the NYC-based Midnight Masses. Jaleel moved out from behind the drums to playing guitar again, his first instrument. He also played in the blues and gospel band Reverend Vince Anderson & His Love Choir. Dave Sitek released his own solo album, Maximum Balloon, and recently announced he would be producing and playing bass on the new album from Jane’s Addiction. Kyp released his solo album under the name Rain Machine and embarked on a couple of brief tours.
8. TV On The Radio embarked on an extensive tour beginning just before the release of Nine Types of Light. They headlined Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 13, the day after the album’s release.