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TV On The Radio Seeds Harvest Records

In September, TV On The Radio lead singer Tunde Adebimpe told Rolling Stone that the past few years could have “stopped the band cold”, most likely referencing the untimely death of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011. In some measure then, it is testament to the quality of the band as an artistic unit that they have resolved to continue in the face of such disturbing adversity. Perhaps even more striking though is the optimistic tone with which they have re-emerged. For a band almost shocked out of existence by loss, Seeds begins on hopeful footing.

Initially this strikes an engaging note. Album opener Quartz rings and clatters into being with enough frequencies and concurrent harmonics to support Adebimpe’s uncomplicated vocals with a luminous wealth. This refreshing strength and focus is relatively present in the next couple of tracks, only as the record rolls on beyond this point, very little else happens. What could have become one of TV On The Radio’s most viable and unanimously received records to date essentially refuses to deliver. This is not to say it dissolves into something unworthy – even dissolution could be considered a trajectory. Rather, the record arrives and asserts a singular mood throughout, a mood that is quickly exposed as flawed and forgettable.

It would be churlish to call this a shitty album, particularly considering the monumental strength of character TVOTR have displayed in producing something album-shaped at all. Yet it would be even more patronising not to acknowledge that a band of their standing should produce something with more character and more intent than Seeds. Cuts like Right Now and the album’s title track, have all the lasting impact of Hard-Fi B-Sides. The album ultimately becomes an exercise in faceless melodies; a series of songs that can only exist during playtime before, on reflection, they become an anonymous, amorphous blob.