Following cancer, breakdowns, and what appears to have been one of the most arduous tours of all time following the success of Dear Science, the fantastic TV On The Radio have returned with a sprawling, accomplished record in the spectacular shape of Nine Types Of Light. Whilst retaining both the soul and groove of their previous efforts, the album boasts less of urgency and more of a complacent melancholy, as Dave Sitek et al relax into their own little niche and rewrite the anatomy of cool, defining it by one of the best albums you'll hear all year.

They have the incredible ability of writing songs both distinctive and instantly recognisable, though still totally fresh and unpredictable. If Dear Science is a neurotic, sexually aggressive teenager, revelling in his own anxiety, then Nine Types Of Light is the confident older brother tentatively choosing a romantic love over lust. At the first meeting this takes the mellow elements of previous efforts and explores electronica through soaring harmonies and bass. By the third listen though it's back to the drawing board, as the subtle nuances and firework synths of tracks such as 'Keep Your Heart' are developed. The beauty and heart of the track is frankly breathtaking, as Tunde Adebimpe's rich vocal suggests a self-consciousness and resigned desperation - "How'm I gonna keep your heart / If the world all falls apart". There is astounding depth to the record, with delicately picked guitar meeting horns and strings in perfectly produced harmony.

'Caffeinated Consiousness' tackles blues and The White Stripes, but the vocal and synths both modernise and personalise a broad and easily repetitive sound. I think the potential dangers of the record lie in the comparisons made possible by the accessibility; I'm ashamed to admit I was originally underwhelmed by the album, with the relaxed enthusiasm at odds with the previously hectic organisation of songs like 'Dancing Choose'. If anything there is a greater longevity here, with the threatening air of 'New Cannonball Run' coming across as some sort of freaky glam-funk hybrid pervert; the disparity of influences and resulting songs eclipse their past, and suggest a band at peace in the moment with the range of their sound. With their inimitable vocal, TV On The Radio are a band who will always encapsulate their own originality and simply further them from possible comparisons, merely redefining themselves through variety, but based on this evidence the year off has given the group space to break from character and return to their soul roots, with the laconic guitar of 'Repetition' and theatrical reprise leading into the strings and apocalyptica of 'Forgotten'. 'No Future Shock' is your familiar dancefloor filler, encompassing both frenetic brass and organ in Americana and Nine Types Of Light is a delicate, exuberant album proving that genuine and raw pop music is still possible, in the most danceable sense. The joy of the record lies in the decadence and wealth of the sound, ensuring repeated listening just to try and touch on the unexplored genius of TV On The Radio.

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