Music Reviews
Dear Science

TV On The Radio Dear Science

(DGC/Interscope) Rating - 5/10

I don’t know what I expected from the new TVOR album, but one thing I certainly didn’t expect was to end up bored by it. Here was one of the most sonically innovative bands working within a pop context (I refer to pop in its most expansive definition), experimenting and at the same time broadening their appeal on their second full length album, and promising on the third to become even more user friendly. I’m not a big fan of esoteric noodling without any entertainment value so I was definitely ready to accept such a move, even though I’ve been a big fan of what they’ve done up to now. But things didn’t really turn out that way, or if they did, I’m so woefully out of touch that I don’t get it at all.  

The proceedings start out decently enough with Halfway Home, with its handclaps and “ba-pa-pa”s, and its odd chorus leading you to conclude that the band has struck the proper balance between their way-out tendencies and their pop inclinations. But on the follow-up, Crying, we find out what TVOR really has in store – an over-reliance on programmable beats at the expense of organic groove and melody. Their previous work had a ‘reach out and grab you by the throat’ quality that is notably absent here. The whole laptop rock aesthetic falls flat on a decent song like Shout Me Out, which, when it really gets going, is so reliant on a digital beat that the soul-stirring urgency the guitars are trying to pump into the tune is fatally undermined. I’m much more moved by DLZ, which sounds like it has an actual drummer on it. That one really seems to ooze a natural tension which has been their stock in trade. For the most part, the tunes are simply drab. For the first time, they sound bored, and I respond in kind. 
Sure, this one will make a lot of best-of lists out of sheer inertia, but don’t kid yourself; the quality of the tunes here is a huge step down from anything they’ve done before. They haven’t exactly lost their sense of intrigue, it’s just that on Dear Science it all sounds a lot less intriguing.