Until quite recently, I must admit it hadn’t occurred to me that mixing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and Bowie’s “Heroes” would be a particularly good idea. But the arrival of TV On The Radio’s fantastic new single has changed all that.
“Golden Age” is by some distance the funkiest thing that TVOTR have released thus far, and also possibly the best. Much as I liked their first album, the frowsty density of “Return To Cookie Mountain” made it seem a little samey and impenetrable to me. Listening to David Sitek’s production job on that Scarlett Johansson album earlier this year reminded me, obscurely, of a giant ornate cake made entirely of icing. Impressive, sure, but overwhelmingly sickly.
One of the many great things about “Golden Age”, then, is that Sitek has built a fair bit more space into the song. It begins as choppy, airy funk, and the band only really build one of their opulent artifices when the chorus arrives. The contrast, the dynamics of it all, is pretty awesome. There’s a fair bit of Prince here, not least in Tunde Adebimpe’s edgy falsetto (maybe it’s Kyp Malone: apologies, I’m not the world’s biggest expert on the band), but then there’s a glorious shift into the middle eight, when the whole sound transforms into a neat facsimile of Berlin Bowie.
I’ve heard “Dear Science”, the third TV On The Radio album, just the once, a good few weeks ago now, and rough acquaintance with it suggested it’s by some distance the best and most varied album the band have made thus far: good timing, I’d say, given that the Williamsburg dynasty in some way sired by Sitek and his comrades are now graduating to serious prominence; and some of their obvious descendants like Yeasayer are threatening to usurp TVOTR themselves.
One eminent Uncut contributor who’s been fortunate enough to spend proper time with “Dear Science” has been making claims about it being one of the very best art-rock releases of this decade, which isn’t the sort of empirical hype I like, but which does make me very keen to get my hands on a CD permanently.
I’m working on that, and I’ll report back when I’m successful. In the meantime, I think I’ll keep punctuating today’s sequence of New Order and Philip Glass reissues with “Golden Age”. Having checked TV On The Radio’s Myspace, it’s playing there right now. Let me know what you think.