TV on the Radio

Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

Review after orgasmic review has tripped over itself in an attempt to lie prostrate at the feet of TV on the Radio, which may very well be the World's Coolest Band (WCB). Chances are even your kid brother already rocks out to Young Liars, TVOTR's near-mythic debut EP. In the interest of maintaining your hipster cred, this similarly slobbering reviewer has provided the following “why TVOTR is way cooler than us” cheat sheet:

No. 1: Its members are visual artists and filmmakers, and Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is informed by the bleak hangover of an art film. “Dreams,” for example, drags you through a harsh aural landscape, ripping you in and out of a falsetto so dogged you can almost see it.

No. 2: The group is FOTYYY (Friends of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, last year's WCB). Along with several drool-worthy collaborations between the two bands, Desperate Youth is also marked with an urgency that, while less unruly than the YYYs' Fever to Tell, similarly induces the desire to run, slack-jawed, around the block several times.

No. 3: TVOTR makes being compared to Peter Gabriel cool. If you listen closely enough to the fervently forlorn indie hymn “Staring at the Sun,” for example, vocalist Tunde Adepimbe's sharp bleat does have a certain “Big Time” quality to it, albeit without the “I need to pull over and puke” kickback.

No. 4: TVOTR has resurrected doo-wop. Starting with Young Liars' now-legendary cover of the Pixies' “Mr. Grieves” and continuing with Desperate Youth's “Ambulance,” it has developed an armchair doo-wop that is both bleakly removed from and perfectly entrenched in the street-corner origins of the genre.

No. 5: TVOTR makes even basic political critiques fascinatingly relevant. “Wrong Way” pointedly crosses a stomping, shuffling minstrel-show loop with lyrics like “Woke up in a magic nigger movie/ With the bright lights pointed at me/ As a metaphor.”

But what makes TVOTR truly cool is that it does all of this with only the briefest whiff of pretension — Desperate Youth is brilliant and earnest enough to appeal to you and your kid brother.

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