Return to Cookie Mountain

After two years since their last release, TV On the Radio is back with “Return to Cookie Mountain.” The album was released worldwide on July 6, 2006, with the exception of the U.S. and Canada, where the album will be released on September 12. Already being praised as one of the best releases of the year, “Return to Cookie Mountain” blends jazz, hip hop, doo-wop, and avant-garde rock together with powerful, atmospheric vocals. Hailing from New York City, TV On the Radio was formed in 2001 and is comprised of Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, David Andrew Sitek, Jaleel Bunton, and Gerard Smith. During the first few years, the band was signed to Touch and Go Records, but the band transitioned to a major label, and “Return to Cookie Mountain” is their debut release on Interscope Records. The album opens with the extremely complex track, “I Was a Lover.” This track combines broken guitars with hip hop beats and horns that bellow with sadness. Adebimpe’s vocals sink into the music, singing, “And we don’t make eye contact/when we have run-ins in town/just a barely polite nod/and nervous stares towards the ground,” adding to the sense of being a failed romantic. The second track, “Hours,” is much more in-your-face with its political messages and references with lines like “just too bad they lied/oh come around/inform our future youth/summon from the sky.” Adebimpe sings with a sense of anguish, but also hope for the future. “Province” is one of the standout tracks on the album, not only due to the beautiful and haunting piano that is scattered throughout, but also because David Bowie is featured on the backing vocals. Apparently, it was Bowie, an avid fan of TV on the radio, who proposed the idea to the band. “Playhouses” is one of the more layered tracks with a range of vocals that embosses the music rather than sinks into it. Heavy, syncopated drums back the vocals, which make it one of the more powerful tracks on the album. The fifth track on “Return to Cookie Mountain” is the catchiest. “Wolf Like Me” achieves this stuck-on-you status with the repetition of “we’re howling forever” and a forceful feel with lines like “Charge me your day rate/I’ll turn you out in kind/when the moon is round and full/gonna teach you tricks that blow your mind.” TV sings from the gutter in “Down Here,” a track filled with a sense of anguish, despair, and a search for truth, found within the lyrics, “now I’m waiting for an answer patiently/stuck here at the bottom of this well/it’s not the last you’ve heard from me.” The melancholy lyrics collide with a parade of horns, layered vocals, and drums that only deepen the emotions of the song. Adebimpe returns with his failed romantic concept on “Tonight” and adds to that sadness with soulful vocals along with soft drums and the mournful croon of a clarinet. The album concludes with the track “Wash the Day” which is the longest track on there. Layered vocals and guitars, bold drums, horns, and a flute come together in the epic song about hopes, dreams, and fears. “Return to Cookie Mountain” has enjoyed a heap of hype from the mainstream press, partly due to TV On the Radio’s deal with Interscope. Just released in America, the compelling and complex sophomore album will likely also be discussed on TV, even if it may not get much mainstream radio play.