34.) TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
Return to Cookie Mountain is a terrible album title. It's trying really hard to be memorable by being nonsensical. At least, I think so. Unless it's a thing and I just don't know it in which case, it's still a fucking horrible title. Having said that, Return to Cookie Mountain is a brilliant record. It's fantastic, in fact, from start to finish - whether you're listening to the leaked version that opens with "Wolf Like Me" (which, shame on you if this is the case - BUY MUSIC!) or the actual record which is sequenced differently and begins with "I Was a Lover" - it doesn't matter. The impact's the same. And it's real good.
Because we, as a music culture, spend so much time putting bands in boxes, when a band can't be boxed in it's exciting. If you had never heard of TV on the Radio and asked me what they were like, I would have no idea what to say. Take "I Was A Lover" Cookie's proper opening track. What the fuck is it? It's a loop and then something comes crashing, or is it a passing train? I honestly don't know. The track is so off-kilter. Compositionally it makes no sense. Frontmen Tunde Adipempe and Kyp Malone trade vocals, I think... or is that only one of them? I have no idea. Noticing a pattern here? Yet, "I Was a Lover" is a great pop song and in a lot of ways it defines the band.
You see, when the record was leaked "Wolf Like Me" was sequenced to be the opener and that makes sense. It's a barnburner. "Wolf Like Me" is a song I get. That everybody gets - it's a simpler introduction to a record that's going to veer of course a thousand different times and in a thousand glorious ways. But, "Wolf Like Me", though the record's first single, would ultimately not be the opening track...because it was too logical a decision, so therefore it couldn't be right.
Return To Cookie Mountain isn't afraid of being weird, in fact TV on the Radio relish in it, but they manage to rein it in long enough to make the record anything but a chore. Most people like TV on the Radio. Their music is strange, but upon first listen it's just good. Their quirks are organic, part of the package and not manufactured which makes it palatable. Return to Cookie Mountain is their mission statement. If you don't like it, I don't know what to tell you. I can't really explain why you should like it. I just know that I do. A lot.
Posted by Pat Driscoll