TV on the Radio Falls Short

By Ricky MacGill

TV on the Radio has come a long way since laying down some initial tracks in its guitarists’ recording studio.

After making a fan out of David Bowie and being dubbed “the next big thing” by magazines like Rolling Stone, the quintet has created a reputation for captivating audiences with its distinctive tunes.

The band, which comprises Kyp Malone, David Sitek, Tunde Adebimpe, Gerard Smith and Jaleel Bunton, was formed in Brooklyn in 2001 and previously recorded two full-length albums on independent labels. On Sept. 12, they released their major label debut, “Return to Cookie Mountain,” a lengthy, well-produced effort, reiterating the chilled-out vibes mastered in their earlier work.

TV on the Radio’s third album is at times strange and disorganized. It kicks off with “I was a Lover,” which uses a unique arrangement of beats accompanied by falsetto vocals. The combination is unpleasant and pretentious, leaving the listener confused.

There are some more conventional songs, such as “Wolf Like Me” and “A Method.” Sounding similar to an Outkast creation, “Wolf Like Me” has a more listenable, flowing rhythm. Unlike previous tracks, it is straightforward and accessible.

“A Method” is a slower song that meanders while relaxing the listener. It serves as an intermission from the fast paced, sandwiched between the up-tempo “Wolf Like Me” and “Let the Devil In.”

“Return to Cookie Mountain” concludes with “Wash the Day,” an eight-minute tune reminiscent of the disappointing opener. It is a summation of all of the album’s greatest flaws, combining incompatible sounds with awkward vocals and ultimately going nowhere.

Overall, TV on the Radio’s “Return to Cookie Mountain” was a letdown. By combining the skills of producer/guitarist David Sitek, who has worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and the band’s undeniable musical talent, it seemed like an opportunity to put TV on the Radio on everyone’s radar. All the ingredients added up to a can’t-miss album, but it fell short of the expectations.

“Return to Cookie Mountain” is more than an hour of strange beats and odd vocals. It leaves listeners annoyed about the time and money they wasted on the CD. The high-pitched singing and unconventional use of instruments are disconcerting to the ear. Additionally, the slow tempo of almost every song and the repetitiveness of the album tend to bore, not soothe, the listener.

While “Return to Cookie Mountain” has several weaknesses, there are still some redeeming points. The sound quality is solid, complemented by its fresh production and attention to detail.

The slow-tempo songs make the album the perfect soundtrack for a lazy stroll through the city or a laid-back evening with friends. Fans of alternative rock and bands like Gorillaz and Outkast would consider the album a suitable addition to their music libraries.

Nonetheless, “Return to Cookie Mountain” generally leaves the expectant listener disappointed and unmoved. While fans of alternative music may flock to the music in droves, it won’t find its place on top-40 radio.

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