Another one of my most anticipated albums of 2014 dropped last week, but this is the first one to be a true disappointment. Before I begin I would encourage you to listen to the record before you read my reaction to it. It is often the case that someone with different preferences will find excellence in an album that I cannot seem to click with, and I would not want to start you off with preconceived notions of quality. The culprit in this case is TV on the Radio’s new release, Seeds. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for TV on the Radio, and I count Return to Cookie Mountain as one of the best albums in the last ten years, I simply cannot seem to get anything out of Seeds. In fairness, I’ve given Seeds seven or eight listens at this point, so I will not be trashing an album based on first impressions.
Seeds started with some promise. “Quartz” and “Careful You” both have some interesting elements and classic David Sitek production. I first found myself sinking into another incarnation of TV on the Radio, and I was once again excited to be experiencing another change in their overall vibe. Since the raw darkness of Return to Cookie Mountain, they have been steadily moving towards a more joyful place, and that is where I will allow you readers to place your first grain of salt to my analysis. Seeds is certainly their happiest and most fun album yet, so where a listener might be disgruntled, someone looking for that joy may find it in Seeds. After a few tracks of passable but unexceptional music, I arrived at “Test Pilot”. From that point on, I began to draw away from the new sound of this album.
There is nothing about Seeds to really hate, but the essential problem I have is that there isn’t anything to truly grab me. What began at “Test Pilot” was a set of songs with various average musical components. The melodies are poppy and in-your-face. The song structures are quite standard, with a lot of repeating verse-chorus-bridge stuff without development. The lyrics are a shadow of their former brilliance. Instead of precise, subtle layering, I hear a wall of production that seems to be hiding the lack of substance in these tracks. The intro to “Ride” is probably the best section of the entire album, but unfortunately the beautiful and calm mix of instruments is canned before they can stretch their legs. None of these elements sound bad, they are simply underwhelming. The last three tracks redeem the album a bit, but none of them would be a top song on a great album.
Seeds is a collection of fun, easily enjoyable songs, but coming from a band that has created a few breathtaking albums that cannot be found anywhere else, this is a lackluster effort. Perhaps I am being unfair. TV on the Radio has provided us with some great music over the years, and it is unreasonable to expect a band to constantly release another Return to Cookie Mountain or Dear Science,. I will still tune in when TV on the Radio has something new to offer, and I will give Seeds a few more tries before I put it to bed. Odds are I’ll end up throwing a few songs into party playlists or the like. One way or another, I strongly encourage you to try this album to see what you think, and if you haven’t heard them before, try any of their older albums.
PS. Here’s an old favourite of mine. Enjoy.