Release Date: 2011-04-20
After three albums of challenging and rewarding art-rock, the Brooklyn quintet has assembled their warmest, most immediately alluring set of songs. Where in the past they raised their freak flag with abrupt time/tonal changes, unusual sounds/samples, or careening waves of guitar, Nine Types of Light is more focused, relaxed, and inviting. The album’s “less is more” approach still allows for keen textures, but the sonic touches are in the background and don’t upstage singers Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe. Continuing the ethos of 2008’s Dear Science, the vocals are crisp and high in the mix. Recorded and produced by guitarist/keyboardist David Sitek in his new L.A. studio, the album eschews the socio-political in favor of the heart (and loin). While still arty, it doesn’t neglect hooks or groove. And it gets better with each listen, from “Killer Crane” (a beautiful, understated baroque pop number that lingers like a spring breeze) to the funky soul strut of “Second Song,” sandwiching its laconic “See Me, Hear Me”-style confessional mid-song break, to the sumptuous, smoky R&B ballad “Will Do,” whose clattering, echoing background crashes suggest futuristic Blade Runner environs. It’s experimental rock that doesn’t sound like it.