MORE BLOGS: Blurt | Stuck in VT | Mistress Maeve

Seven Days Blogs: Solid State Music Blog

« Snow Balls | Main | 1000 Bottles O' Beer »

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TVOTR's Scientific Method

If you’re just now discovering TV on the Radio, then you have not been properly seeking or scanning. This tantalizing original band has been the worst kept secret in contemporary music for the last half decade. Return to Cookie Mountain (2006) installed the group at the forefront of a new ultra modernism in American music, a cacophonous symphonic meld of clashing stylistic influences fastened on a pop-enthused frame. Dear Science is a stirring addition to their ever proliferating catalog; a stalwart continuation of the band’s hooking groove, and easily one of the best releases of the year.

The combustive escalation of record's jubilant introductory track “Halfway Home” immediately reasserts the bands harmonic originality, truly a piece by band not assuming a torch but dropping it to set ablaze a thrown that is rightfully theirs; "Is it not me?/Am I not culled into your clutch?/The words you spoke I know too much."1tvontheradio

The genius of TV on the Radio lies in their ability to melt down conventions of pop, rock and post-punk while retaining only elements they’re interested in, bombastically leaving traditional narratives, accompaniments and song constructions in their wake.

The chaotically danceable “Crying” is a somber pop song in disguise, a rebuke not on customary pop triflings, but a defiance of encroaching authoritarian repression, of "death under masthead," of "the fattening of vultures.” Croons lead singer Tunde Adebimpe, in his starkly original, raspy tenor, "time to take the wheel and the road from the masters." The catchy guitar lick on “Golden Age” blossoms into an orchestral and delightfully hybrid chorus, synth melding with brass, Adebimpe’s voice the calm in the storm.

The group’s hauntingly somber, distended melodies are on full display in “Family Tree,” where an escape from the record's strident din yields a strikingly stark sentimentality. A despairing set of weighty piano chords are the perfect accompaniment to the track's choral ebbs.

The exquisitely celestial “Love Dog” is a surefire candidate for song of the year. While it maintains the group’s charismatic harmonic ascent, it is a state of reverence and directness as yet unheard in their catalog.Much like the record itself, the song is a reckoning by a group whose creative ingenuity remains dominantly unparalleled in American music. "Curse me out in free verse/Wrap me up and reverse/This patience is a virtue/Until its silence burns you.”



I'm crazy about TV On the Radio, and I'm always stoked to see them get positive notice... but I have to say, the writing here is really making me wince.
Not good.


The phrase "stoked" makes me wince. Douche.


I know, dude, like, the writing is like, totally "not good". I am totally not stoked.

Skip Roads

Nordstrom, that's because you're used to TV. And I should also mention - oh - oh, wait... Yup. That's your mother calling you.


Friends of John Pritchard, I didn't say your buddy couldn't be a good writer *someday*.
*Someday* he may actually write something that gets me totally stoked.

I guess, as a fan of this band and good writing, I just felt the need to leap into the breach left by whomever approved this for publication. If he's never called out on severely awkward turns of phrase, bafflingly poor attempts at critical poesy, and missing words, how will John ever improve?

A critic who can't take criticism is in the wrong game.



I don't know Mr. Pritchard - but I'm a fan of Solid State.

A whale would argue that you're not listening in English 101. A whale would say you don't jump into a breach, you just breach.

I don't know what "critical poesy" is - but something tells me it's best left between you and Grandma. If you're not called out on your impish, pick-fight noodling - who will save the internet - and good music blogs - from the likes of other Stroms that want to Nord? A vicious game.

Now, I'm going to go stare deeply into the the flame welding torch before you reply.

Peace and love,


Ooooh. A blog fight! It's been a while. Good times.

Not to pick nits, but used as a noun, a breach actually refers to an opening or rupture, particularly in a solid structure. It can also refer — again, also as a noun — to the thing a whale does. BTW, did you know that while scientists don't really know why whales breach, the reigning theory is that it aids in digestion. The reason they think this is that after whales breach, they usually unleash a massive — and I do mean massive — number two. There's probably a metaphor for blogging in there somewhere. But I digress.

My favorite use of the term is as the opening of a shotgun where one loads the shells. I discovered this via Tom Franklin's remarkable novel Hell at the Breach. Nordstrom, if you get off on elegant literary posey, I highly recommend you swing by the library and pick it up. Might be the best book I've read in a few years. Brutal, beautiful stuff.

As for criticism, you're absolutely correct. If one can't accept it, one has no business dishing it. But there is a caveat: being a critic is a serious responsibility. And one that requires no small degree of tact. To merely — and essentially anonymously — state that something makes you wince or is "not good" isn't criticism. Or, at the very least, it isn't good criticism. Of course, the same could be said of calling a total stranger a "douche."

Good criticism would be explaining why something makes you wince. And by the way, doing so under your real name goes a long way towards legitimizing your opinion. But then again, what is a blog if not a forum for anonymous snark masquerading as intellectualism? Sigh.

It is also prudent to point out that John has yet to jump in to this particular breach and take exception to your point. So the notion that he can't take criticism is pure — and frankly, unfair — speculation on your part.

As the guy responsible for publishing this post and editing everything else he's submitted to the 7D music section, I can tell you that Mr. Pritchard not only readily accepts criticism concerning his work, he is totally stoked by it, bro. It's one of the reasons I use him as frequently as I do and stand behind what he contributes, both to this blog and the paper.


Nice to hear from you, Dan.

I post under my real name. My real name is Mike Nordstrom. Also, I never post anything on the internet that I wouldn't say to the person(s) I'm addressing in real life. I wonder if those who have reacted here by calling me a douche, fantasizing about my relationship with Mom and Grandma, and making fun of my name (all without a single cogent comment about the piece in question) can all say the same.

Also, I don't consider myself an intellectual; I'm more of a professional dumbass.

I felt remiss, almost immediately after my original post, that I hadn't gone into some detail about why the piece made me wince. I wanted to, but shit has been hectic, and at that moment I just didn't have the time to write something lengthy. I should've waited until I could; I totally agree with you, my original post was non-helpful at best, seemingly trollish at worst. I tried to redress that when I posted again by going into specifics.

John likes TV on The Radio- it's clear he's passionate about them. Quite honestly, that made me feel that he is, to some degree, a kindred spirit... good people, likely. This was no small part of my motivation to comment on the writing. If it had been an obligatory toss-off post on TVoTR by someone who obviously didn't give a fuck about/understand the music, I woulda just kept on moving. What bugged me is that John *is* passionate about them, and has a lot to say... and, I believe, wanted to say it in a way that would be somewhat reflective of the band's own deftly dense poetry... but to me, it just did not come off well, for the reasons cited above. Really, I think one or two more revisions (and perhaps stronger editorial feedback) might have made this a fine piece of music writing and communicated more clearly what's to love about this band.

Lastly, I want to clarify that my point about critics being able to take criticism was not addressed to or speculation about John. It was aimed at the other posters here; what I meant by it is that I believe John is probably man enough and critic enough to read my (again, admittedly underwritten) negative post without needing them to spring to his aid with weird, jerktastic defenses.

"Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood."
-Kahlil Gibran


The comments to this entry are closed.

Recent Comments

Blurt (7D Staff)

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © SEVEN DAYS 1995-2010 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802.864.5684