TV on the Radio's Seeds: Album Review

TV on the Radio's back catalogue has always stubbornly defied categorization; one moment they're a loud, swaggering rock band (see the band's greatest song: "Wolf Like Me" from 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain) and the next they're delicate, electronic or something else entirely.

??According to a Wall Street Journal interview with frontman Tunde Adebimpe, the band adopted a simple formula for the writing of Seeds, their first since the tragic passing of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011: if a song didn't immediately reveal itself as catchy, it was scrapped.

The result is TV on the Radio's leanest collection of songs that avoids the familiar peak-and-valley feel of their discography.

??"Happy Idiot" and "Careful You" are prime choices for Seeds' singles and prove the formula works.

The latter of which sports industrial synths but is humanized by Adebimpe's excellent "cooing." "Happy Idiot" is probably the stronger of the two though, its upbeat tempo matching its "ignorance is bliss" message.

The track's glitched-out anthemic "heys" are addictive and make it irresistible, even if the guitar riff is pretty much copied-and-pasted from Silversun Pickup's "Kissing Families."??

Although Seeds is largely comprised of TV on the Radio's "chill" side, the album's midway point sees a slight reprise of their "loud" side.

The distorted guitars of "Winter" tease at punk rock that never comes and "Lazerray" is probably the most straight-forward rock song the band has done in years.

??"Trouble" sounds like what would happen if you made The National listen to a bunch of Massive Attack and record a song.

While that doesn't sound so good on paper, it makes for one of Seeds' best songs, second only to "Happy Idiot."

??TV on the Radio has been through a lot in the last couple of years - enough to stop them in their tracks.

It's a good thing they pressed on, because Seeds' no-bullsh*t approach makes for one of 2014's pleasant surprises.