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12/8 KUMD Ablum Review: Seeds
One must be wary of expectations. When one has set a bar too high or has hyped up something too much, the object in question can get distorted in its value. When it comes to TV on the Radio’s latest work Seeds it didn’t necessarily meet fan’s expectations. For the avant-garde art rock group, this album seemed to be some of their most stripped down and accessible work to date. Yet, when looking deeper into Seeds, it becomes increasingly apparent that even this band’s “worst” record is still an excellent body of music. Even in accessibility, TV on the Radio’s sound remains as engaging, idiosyncratic, and unique as ever.
This album is the first release from TV on the Radio since 2011's Nine Types of Light and the death of their bass player Gerard Smith. This caused their three year hiatus and many fans were worried how this could affect their sound. In comparison to some of their more experimental, layered, and beloved albums (Return to Cookie Mountain, Dear Science, Restless Youth Bloodthirsty Babes) Seeds seems to be the band's attempt to make themselves as accessible as possible. With the crux of the album having ridiculously catchy tracks the band seems to be playing to their fame at this point and not trying to push the envelope like they have in the past. The album's lead singles "Happy Idiot", with its fast backing beat and companion guitar riffing and "Careful You", with its hooking synthesizer and clever lyric arrangements show that the band knows how to write and structure a good song. Some can criticize its lack of experimentation and depth but however, it is hard to not tap your foot to these tracks. Deeper cuts like "Winter", "Could You" and the title track "Seeds" still have recognizable tropes of the band like loud distorted guitars, synthesizer based brass sections, and eerily beautiful harmonies. However, what the band does on this record is take all the tropes they are known for and broaden them for a wider audience. Like the title of the work, Seeds, each song will plant itself in your mind and only grow and grow after further listens. Lyrically the album does sound like a broken record at points as it focuses on aspects of love and relationships, but after the incredibly weird and innovative body of work TV on the Radio has given us, the audience can just cut them some slack for writing some solid love/heartbreak songs.
Seeds seems to be the first album by TV on the Radio that shows on the surface level of pop rather than grows in the depths of your brain. It is true that in comparison the incredibly arranged and unique sounds the band has come out with, this is the first time they've really wrote straight up radio friendly music. To use a harsher set of words, this work seems a lot more shallow than deep. However, what this record truly does beautifully is give the listener the chance to enjoy the surface of a song immediately, and then dive in deeper the more they listen. In opposition to their other record's, Seeds is the easiest to listen too. This is disappointing in comparison to the complexities we are used to hearing from TV on the Radio but, nevertheless, it can still be added to the band's ever-increasing catalog of great music.
Rec Tracks: Happy Idiot, Careful You, Winter, Could You, Seeds, Right Now, Quartz, Test Pilot
RIYL: Spoon, Tune-Yards, Caribou, LCD Soundsystem, Cymbals Eat Guitars, The Flaming Lips