[midlife 150] #126: tv on the radio “family tree”

May 31, 2010

Album cover for TV On The Radio's Dear Science

#126 Family Tree by TV On The Radio, taken from Dear Science, 2008 [buy from Amazon.co.uk]

Brooklyn, New York band TV On The Radio is rightly hailed as one of the most artistically successful rock acts of the last decade (they have been in hiatus since 2009). The group’s output is a persuasive blend of alt rock, soul, punk and electronica that somehow fails to fall into the gaps between genres that leave other, lesser acts trapped by their own overreaching ambition. It’s little wonder David Bowie reportedly took a shine to them early on in their career.

Family Tree, from their third album proper, Dear Science, is typical of TVOTR in some ways, but not in others. Tunde Adebimpe’s soulful vocal carries the intelligent poetry of his lyrics as for so many of the band’s songs, but Family Tree sees him fully embrace an uplifting sentimentality (for dignity in death?) usually suppressed beneath their trademark spiky-edged, funk-laden sound. Its dense orchestration and life-affirming melody ensure Family Tree bears repeated listening until you’re finally “laying in the shadow of your family tree.” Naturally it’s a candidate for my funeral playlist.

This review is part of close to 94 ‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.


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