The instantly recognizable parts of TV on the Radio are Tunde Adebimpe’s falsetto, equal parts Marvin Gaye and Pere Ubu’s David Thomas, and David Andrew Sitek’s swooshing, atmospheric layers of keyboards and tape loops. What’s too often overlooked is the band’s superb and inventive rhythm section, made up of bassist Gerard Smith and drummer Jaleel Bunton.
Smith and Bunton do more than anchor TVOTR’s third disc, Dear Science,. They propel it, pushing it into a funky realm of art-pop accessibility that the band’s previous records lacked. It’s still a dense affair—the skittering drumbeat and bass line of “Golden Age” bounce off each other like ricocheting pinballs—but agile, too, never sacrificing forward momentum for the sake of the funk.
That’s not to say, though, that rhythm is the only element of Dear Science,. The contributions of Adebimpe, Sitek, and guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone—melancholy, Radiohead-inspired, space-age alt-rock infused with soul—are equally important. But TVOTR’s hidden strength is its combination of beats and a complex melodic sensibility; the brilliance of Dear Science, is that it combines the two as seamlessly as it does. Add the handclaps and horns courtesy of the Brooklyn Afrobeat collective Antibalas and you have a genuinely surprising and repeatedly thrilling album.