Return to Cookie Mountain is one of my all-time favorite records, so I’m with the minority of those who were not completely enamored by the band’s last release Dear Science. Yet, in Nine Types of Light, TV on the Radio has made a bold, unpredictable masterstroke that defies the characterization of a major label band. It’s as if TVOTR has found a recipe for songwriting that pleases the suits at Interscope, but, more importantly, remains loyal to fans who have followed the band into stardom.
Nine Types of Lights is a record from a band with absolute confidence in their craft. While a move from Brooklyn to LA during the recording process may have signaled that something has changed or needed changing, guitarist/producer Dave Sitek’s LA studio appears to have provided little interference on the band’s fifth full-length effort. They certainly brought Brooklyn’s soul with them on standout tracks like “Keep Your Heart” and “You.” The former would have fit nicely in the track listing for Return to Cookie Mountain, while the latter is my early pick for favorite track of the year. And “Caffeinated Consciousness” serves as a thunderous album closer, a stark contrast to “Lover’s Day” on Dear Science or the never-really-ending (14 “untitled” tracks)Return to Cookie Mountain. Maybe this communicates that the band is more sure of themselves these days and slightly less melancholy as Kyp Malone chants “We’re the tail-end of the sun | To a greener hideaway | Where in peace I found my fun” … probably not. It sounds more like the band just has more confidence that humanity will find its way out of the mire.
In the end, Nine Types of Light sounds like a more reserved revisiting of the formula that made me such a huge fan of the band when I first heard the stunning “Staring at the Sun” on the end credits of Entourage (not a true story). While it didn’t affect me as much or hit the creative peak that Return to Cookie Mountain did, it’s undoubtedly on my short list for favorite albums of 2011 so far. The band also made a 60-minute-long film to accompany the album and features each track. Watch and listen to Nine Types of Light in its entirety below: