Album Cover
TV on the Radio
Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
Touch & Go
March 09, 2004


The last time I heard this much hype, people were camping overnight to see Star Wars: Episode 1. And if you think I'm about to rant on how hype kills, you're right. Granted, hype doesn't come from nowhere. TV on the Radio earned it fair and square. Young Liars EP was, quite simply, amazing. Not only was it glaringly original, it was created with the skill, precision, and poise of seniority. Heck, they even trumped a Pixies cover.

I can't tell you how many times I have read in the past few months about how people just can't wait for the debut TV on the Radio album. TV on the Radio this, and TV on the Radio that. Oh please. There's some unwritten rule of mindset among us so daring indie-goers to inexplicably love what is unknown and seemingly unpopular. And for some related reason, with all of this TV talk, I don't want to have anything to do with them at all. Deep down inside, I expected the TV on the Radio debut to be a flop, or at least secretly hoped it would. Never mind with all of my bias, the point is, hype kills.

Exponentially, higher expectations equal higher disappointment. And since I have little expectations, as I want the album to crash horribly into oblivion, it only makes sense for me to review it. Either way, I'm not going to be disappointed...I think.

After the first four tracks of Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, I had almost decided to take back my hype kills cliché. "The Wrong Way," a horn driven jazzy snap-along, opens the album the right way. TV on the Radio are back in full swing, reminding me why everyone liked Young Liars so much in the first place. A grungy rumble similar to Liars' "Satellite" is the pulsing backbone, rampant horns scream jazz, and the vocal melodies are just as catchy as the bleepy horn melody. And then, "Staring at the Sun," my favorite from Young Liars, sees its triumphant return. "Dreams" hyper-drives through a neon lit underground street tunnel; bass beats consistently driving. This track is actually the first sign of change; the obtrusive production is missing here, with the vocals taking center stage. And they are even more compelling than before. When the line "all your dreams are over now" is repeated midway through, as the humming background suddenly changes forcefully, I get chills down my back. It's that good.

But then "Ambulance" hit. And it is, quite possibly, one of the most annoying songs I have heard. Ever. The relentless attack of 'dum dum dum's has driven me insane too many times. It's almost comparable to "Mr. Grieves" in style, but as opposed to being brilliant a cappella, it's pure crap. A slightly redeeming melodic vocal line is destroyed by the seeming backbone of dum's. "Poppy" shows a slight glimmer of hope, but "Don't Love You" falls into mediocrity with it's boring, almost chorus-less, pace that fails to grab any attention at all. The rest of the album continues in this boring, mediocre fashion.

When band member and producer Sitek said, " is a more vulnerable sound," he was right. Moments that could have been blinding were dull and tarnished. With all the potential that Young Liars showed, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is a disappointment. Even to me. But even with all the mediocrity swimming around, it still encapsulates the originality and charisma of the EP, just in a slightly less motivating manner. Either that or I could just be sabotaging TV on the Radio, for some unsubstantiated distaste. Point is: fans of the EP are going to be both entertained and disappointed.

Andrew Wexler

Track List

  1. The Wrong Way
  2. Staring at the Sun
  3. Dreams
  4. King Eternal
  5. Ambulance
  6. Poppy
  7. Don't Love You
  8. Bomb Yourself
  9. Wear You Out