TV on the Radio’s fifth album, Seeds, out November 18, might have the buzz of a comeback, but the truth is the band never went away, even after taking a much-needed breather following the death of bassist Gerard Smith, who succumbed to cancer in April 2011 at the age of 36. Early last year, the four remaining members—Tunde Adebimpe, Dave Sitek, Kyp Malone and Jaleel Bunton—announced a split from their label, Interscope, and promptly followed up with two new songs. They haven’t let up since.
Seeds crackles with manic energy and moody introspection, from the tech-punk single “Happy Idiot” (with a video featuring Paul Reubens as a race-car driver careening through a way-out wonderland) to the Eno-ish piano-and-strings prelude that sets up Adebimpe’s moving performance on “Ride”: “Lack of resolution, crying and confusion / There’s one sure solution: Leave it behind, it’s time to ride.” A complete team effort, the album says as much about getting off the mat (cue the Malone-penned exhortation “Could You”) as it does about TVOTR’s vaunted ability to reinvent itself, with Sitek’s tightly layered production defining a mosaic of punk, prog, soul, synth pop, guitar fuzz and sheer power.
Now icons of a bygone Brooklyn scene—the band recently relocated to the West Coast—Adebimpe and his mates make a triumphant return to New York with their first headlining date at the famed Apollo Theater, timed to coincide with Seeds, and three shows in their old Williamsburg stomping ground. The run is a fitting showcase for one of the most resilient bands in indie rock. Welcome home, boys.—Bill Murphy