Compatible idiosyncrasies is the height of romance, which is why TV on the Radio is one of those bands that give people goose bumps. The Brooklyn trio pulls off a unique mix of doo-wop harmonies, porch-blues crooning, unrestrained falsetto, disembodied distortion, opium-den bliss, synthesized moodiness, and not-fucking-around poetry. Due to deliriously enthusiastic reviews for their first release, the Young Liars EP (Touch and Go), they've taken a fair amount of flak for not meeting expectations with their second, the much more subtle and mature Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (also on Touch and Go). Desperate Youth is comparatively stark, relying on singers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone to create and maintain structure and melody and often relegating the music per se--sometimes just warmly muted, primitive percussion and atmospheric fuzz--to the background. Adebimpe and Malone soar and peck, smashing together last and first syllables of words, their intimate yet abstract lyrics rife with the sort of backhanded compliments and flattering insults only a soul mate knows how to deliver. ("Ambulance" starts, "Your slim frame / Your eager eyes and your wild mane / Oh they keep me where I belong / All wrapped up in wrong.") Though Desperate Youth gasps for breath near the end of its nine deceptively simple epics, multiple listenings reveal a versatile album equally good for mauling your special someone, cleaning the kitchen, or turning off the lights and crying on the couch. Panthers open. Friday, March 26, 11 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ludis Mergens.