27 February 2006

tv on the radio - "hours" (from the return to cookie mountain lp, here is the band's 4ad page b/c i can make neither heads nor tails of their official site.)

in brief : it's a good thing i don't have to convince you to want new tv on the radio b/c this is going to be all over the place.

this weekend, i was reading ian mcewan's first love, last rites--yes, never good when the music reviewer mentions that he reads, but bear w/ me. the narrator of the opening story, "homemade," reveals on page one that this is a story about "virginity, coitus, incest and self-abuse"; as difficult as this would seem to forget, fifteen or so pages in, i did, and only when he did get it on w/ his sister did i remember and think, "oh, right, right--i mean, wrong."

or how about this : frank sinatra's "come dance with me" begins w/ some fingersnaps and frank dooby-dooby doing the song's melody a capella, and so even before it's begun, the listener knows precisely where it's going to go, but is quickly thrown off the scent by the extravagance of billy may's orchestra.

the influence of fifties vocal music should never be discounted when discussing tv on the radio--and i hasten to add that incest is always a non-factor--but perhaps classical music best exemplifies what goes on in "hours," but i've yet to feel comfortable talking shit about classical, esp. when it comes to technical terms. what i'm trying to express here, in a roundabout way, is my incredulity at how i failed to notice, after the first listening, the magnificence of this song. tunde begins by singing a wordless refrain, and v. soon this refrain finds its way to other parts of the song, even as the vocals change. the bass keeps it alive; later, the horns keep it alive; later still, the keyboards. the whole record is spectacularly undulant, but it's kept from going totally asea by the firmness of the drum track. when i listen to tv on the radio, this is exactly the sort of thing i want to hear; lucky for us, there's a lot more like this on the record.

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