TV on the Radio Shine Through Malaise on New-Wavey “Happy Idiot”

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 09.02.14 in News

“Since you left me babe / It’s been a long way down,” sings Tunde Adebimpe, sounding perhaps his most smoothly composed, on “Happy Idiot,” the first track to emerge from TV on the Radio‘s new album, Seeds. The sentiment is simple, which suits a song that takes its ignorance-is-bliss method of coping so seriously it actually contains the words “ignorance is bliss.” But it also might fairly sum up what listeners have been feeling: Four years is a long time between albums, and when Seeds arrives on November 18 via Harvest Records (pre-order here), it’ll be the New York band’s first since the loss of bassist/producer Gerard Smith in April 2011.

Two songs TVOTR released last year, the galvanizing “Mercy” and elegiacally waltzing “Million Miles,” don’t appear on the Seeds tracklist, which you can see below. Like those tracks, “Happy Idiot” has an ’80s new-wave sheen, but here the bittersweet lyrical directness and lockstep suaveness more specifically evokes the Police. The husky shadow of Sting has hung over a fair amount of bigger-tent pop in recent years, from Gotye to Bruno Mars, and it’s a smart and generous move from a band that on earlier albums like 2004′s Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes and 2006′s Return to Cookie Mountain were more likely to mirror the apocalypse they saw than mask it in sweetness.

Here, Adebimpe repeats, “I’m a happy idiot/ To keep my mind off you.” No matter the “you,” it’s a feeling that should, after these months of political division, global unrest and oh-so-gradually shrinking unemployment — not to mention the many and varied personal circumstances that come with them — find plenty who can sympathize.

TV on the Radio 'Seeds' cover art

TV on the Radio, Seeds (November 18, Harvest Records)

1. Quartz
2. Careful You
3. Could You
4. Happy Idiot
5. Test Pilot
6. Love Stained
7. Ride
8. Right Now
9. Winter
10. Lazerray
11. Trouble
12. Seeds

TV on the Radio tour dates:

10-17 Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl *
10-18 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library
10-19 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
10-22 Los Angeles, CA – Regent
10-24 Joshua Tree, CA – Pappy & Harriets
10-25 Las Vegas, NV – Life is Beautiful
11-12 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix
11-13 Montreal, Quebec – Corona
11-14 Boston, MA – Paradise
11-16 Washington DC – 9:30 Club
11-17 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
11-18 New York, NY – Apollo
11-21-22 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg

* with Massive Attack