Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, TV on the Radio is an indie rock band that’s been around for over a decade.
Formed in 2001 by the band’s core lineup – Tunde Adebimpe (vocals/loops), David Andrew Sitek (guitars/keyboards/loops), Kyp Malone (vocals/guitars/bass/loops), Jaleel Bunton (drums/vocals/loops/guitars), and Gerard Smith (bass/keyboards), who died of lung cancer in 2011, TV on the Radio was a fairly obscure band until the release of their third studio album “Dear Science” in 2008.
“Dear Science” was named the best album of 2008 by Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Spin, MTV, Entertainment Weekly, the Pitchfork Media’s readers poll, and the Village Voice.
“The title came from a note Dave [Sitek] left on a desk,” Malone said. “It read: ‘Dear Science, please start solving problems and curing diseases or shut the fuck up.'”
The band’s fourth studio album “Nine Types of Light,” was met with high praise from critics as well. It has a “Universal Acclaim” rating of 82 on review website Metacritic. This is an extremely personal album for the band because founding member Gerard Smith died nine days after it’s release.
On their official website, the band released this statement.
“We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly.”
The band cancelled five tour dates in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver despite the opportunity to promote “Nine Types of Light,” which debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard charts.
Three years and 12 songs – 14 including the two tracks exclusive to the vinyl edition- later, the band released their fifth studio album “Seeds” on Nov. 18.
As of now, the album has not been met with the same kind of acclaim as the two previous albums. At Metacritic, many reviewers commented on the album’s shift in aesthetic from the band’s past work, attributing it to Gerard Smith’s passing.
My favorite song on the album was also the one chosen to be released as a single. “Happy Idiot,” number four on the album, was released Sept. 2.
The very name of the song instantly draws me to it. It’s kind of like the saying “ignorance is bliss,” when it all comes down to it. In fact, that saying is a lyric in the song.
What you don’t know won’t hurt you yea
Ignorance is bliss
I’m a happy idiot
Waving at cars
I’m gonna bang my head to the wall
‘Till I feel like nothing at all
I’m a happy idiot
To keep my mind off you
This is the core of the song. It explains that they’re only happy because they’re ignorant, they act stupid to avoid their feelings. The song constantly goes back to the line “to keep my mind off you.” It’s really powerful stuff, honestly.
Karen Gillan, the star of “#Selfie”, and a former main character on the BBC hit “Doctor Who,” plays the part of the girl the singer is trying to keep his mind off of. The video is fairly self explanatory, and shows the lengths the singer will go to in his “happy idiot” state to keep his mind off the one who left him.
This is a band that’s been through a lot the past three years, and who have character having had a hard time making it at first. But honestly, this album is just great, with songs like “Seeds,” the album’s namesake, “Test Pilot,” and “Careful You,” make an album that is the band returning strongly from an uncertain time period in a big and positive way.
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