No Future Shock: Nine Types Of Light Turns 10


TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light

Released April 11th, 2011 on Interscope Records

Produced by David Andrew Sitek

Peaked at #12 US, #33 UK


“Will Do” (#18 US AAA)

“Caffeinated Consciousness”

TV On The Radio were one of the biggest buzz bands of the 00s, charging the American pop charts with 2006’s classic Return To Cookie Mountain and providing the (unfortunately now ironic) anthem for the election of Barack Obama with 2008’s “Golden Age”, from Dear Science. Then they took a year-long hiatus that turned longer, and pursued their own projects. By the time 2011 rolled around the indie world, always quick-paced, rolled on without them. Nine Types Of Light could be considered a comeback of sorts, in that sense. It’s a much brighter album, for one thing. The band’s first three albums were full of the impetuousness of youth and the angst that it brings with it. Nine Types Of Light goes in for a different vibe. These are songs of more mature wanderings, stocked with adult concerns. This is not to say that they settle down into an early middle age musically, however. The urgency and power that was on display during their mid-Oughts run was evident on Nine Types Of Light as well, but this urgency and power was tempered by a newfound mellowness. When they broke out in the end, on the closing number “Caffeinated Consciousness”, it was as though they were bringing us all together to rally for a comfortable and certain future. Of course, the future turned out to be anything but certain, and so the album ends up sounding like an artifact from a different time where hope and change were still possible and in great supply.

That aged-like-milk quality was quick, as well. Nine days after the release of Nine Types Of Light their bassist Gerard Smith died at the age of 36 from an aggressive form of lung cancer. “Killer Crane” was written partly as a way of the band dealing with the fact that Smith was dying, but in a way a lot of the newfound acceptance and maturity that the band offered on the record could be seen in that vein. There is a lot of love on this album and the positivity seems like a way of balancing out the negativity that was surrounding their lives, both in terms of Smith and in terms of their actual physical surroundings. Before recording the album the band moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the sunnier California climate definitely plays a role in the lighter feeling of it. It was a new band, one who had come through to the other side of their youth with their sound more or less intact. Unfortunately they would only release one other album, 2014’s Seeds. From there it has been radio silence.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s