Critics will always fight the temptation to look at TV On The Radio under a magnifying glass, but any truly great band goes through this. I myself am brought back down to earth when I ask about the source of the overt sexuality found in TV On The Radio’s music. Adebimpe replies, “Mostly the genitals, hopefully by way of the heart and soul,” and I laugh, but mainly I’m laughing at my own build-up to the question, especially now that I’ve heard his answer to it. Rolling with the punches, I ask Adebimpe to describe what the title Dear Science really means, and this answer is equally as amusing as the last. “This record is our contribution to science,” he says. “We are not degree holders or experts, but we are used to speaking with utter conviction concerning iffy hunches, bad ideas, and the straight-up imaginary.”
Fair enough. Adebimpe has given me the slip on the “serious music guy” questions, just like the marching band that slips out the backdoor on Dear Science’s final track, “Lovers Day.” Malone, who wrote the track, croaks, “I wanna love ya/All the way off/I wanna break your back,” and hearing that, I now gather that the answers missing to the out- loud wonders of sex and science are better searched for within the rhythms of the album itself. Talk, after all, is cheap. But great music like TV On The Radio’s is indeed priceless.
Many like Adebimpe’s wit and imagination. As two guys who have dwelled in Brooklyn a time or two again, I ask him what’s the very first thing that comes to mind when he reflects on TV On The Radio’s rise to fame in the billowing borough. “Rent,” he says flatly. I hear ya, brother. I really should have known that asking such socio-salacious questions was going to throw off my whole game here. And figuring that I might as well go out with a bang, I put forth the question to Adebimpe that if a deejay was to play TV On The Radio in his set, what would be the songs he’d like to hear before and after his band. “No songs. Just crickets, because they were here before us, and they’ll probably be here after us—but bigger, probably. Like car-sized crickets. So, before us, just crickets, and after us, unbearably loud mega-crickets.”
You see, now we’re on to something. We’re either just leaving, or about to be entering into, a true “Golden Age.” Degree holders and experts—cling to what you can. It’s about to get bumpy.
Dear Science is available now. For more info, visit tvontheradio.com.
Photo Credit: Michael Lavine