Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

Jan 28, 2004 at 12:00 am

My god, what the hell is this? Seriously, I want to know where the hell these three Brooklynites get off blindsiding us like this. Brooklyn is supposed to be a center for nervous overly-hyped bands and here comes this throbbing slab of elegiac soul. It’s … it’s … did Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone and David Andrew Sitek – the principals here — sit up too late one night listening to Mingus, Morphine and Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” only to wake up the next morning with this record sitting on the coffee table next to the four-track, spectacles and cheap port?

TV on the Radio is a strange and beautiful thing. They obey the rules of space as laid out by Lee Perry and Aphex Twin, but they read from maps made by the Marvin Gaye and Throbbing Gristle.

There’s a pulse and a beat, and you can sway to it if you stop in one place long enough to let its bowel-rattling rhythm seep in.

It opens with the fevered space boogie of “The Wrong Way,” and here’s what they sing over sludgy pulsing guitar loops: “Woke up in a magic nigger movie/with the bright lights pointed at me/as a metaphor/teachin’ folks the score/about patience, understanding, agape babe/and sweet, sweet amour.” And there’s no turning back on the pre-dawn, post-imagined-apocalypse city and socialscapes laid out in syncopated time. They rarely work up to a bluster, but the tension is never slack. “Ambulance” is doo-wop as heard while looking for backward-masked messages and retold in half-time. It includes such lovely run-on couplets tripping off Adebimpe’s and Malone’s tongues like “I will be your accident, if you will be my ambulance/I will be your screech and crash if you will be my crutch and cast/and I will be your one more time if you will be my one last chance.”

My office mate said it scared him. My office mate listens to a lot of Phish.

I love that someone is still making music that speaks to the soul while still scaring the casual listener. Set your subarachnoid space on stunned and you’ll see what I mean.

E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].