“a delight – an experimental album with a pop heart”
The Guardian (4/5)
“spellbinding … wonderful”
Observer Music Monthly (4/5)
“evidence of fearless imaginations at play, Cookie Mountain is a triumph of psychedelic melody, drone and eerie groove”
“more than deserving of your worshipful attention. Hallelujah !”
Time Out (5/6)
“excellent … an album full of playful daring”
“ceaselessly inventive and tuneful”
“underlying it all is a glorious pop sensibility”
Independent On Sunday (4/5)
…on the surface Return To Cookie Mountain sets the mind to images of a hot summer’s evening in California but deeper down there is a state of unrest; for a perfect example listen to the paranoid explosions of distortion underneath the shrieks of David Bowie collaboration ‘Province’, a song which would have been the result if Andre 3000 of Outkast had taken inspiration from Kevin Shields rather than Prince when creating ‘The Love Below’.
Further on set an ear the unsettling synthesiser loops that threaten to strangle ‘Wolf Like Me’ into submission. Descending from the relaxed nature of the albums opening triumvirate here the clouds that billowed in the distance now cloister and have turned soot-black, with lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe’s shouts of “…been howling forever” searching for a full crimson moon.
It’s this struggle between light and dark that makes …Cookie Mountain so thrilling; and this is evident not only in the music but the lyrics, which provide a perfect accompaniment. In ‘Province’ the opening pairing of “Suddenly, all your history’s ablaze/ Try to breathe, as the world disintegrates” stands out against the upbeat tempo and falsetto vocals, while ‘Playhouses’ offers some abstract views on alcohol.
Return To Cookie Mountain is a party soundtrack for a fucked-up generation and an opus that inhabits the midpoint between the scarcely conjoining circles of eclecticism and enjoyability whilst maintaining consistency throughout. Somewhere in the distance the dark is gathering, but TV On The Radio are absolutely phosphorescent.
This is one revolution that will be televised
Written by Billy Hamilton
Every so often a record emerges that perfectly encapsulates the heart of contemporary culture – a record so reactive to its time it unifies even the most chaotic community.
The Clash, Public Enemy and Nirvana have all produced albums that injected fervent passion into a disillusioned generation, creating cohesively sovereign subcultures that were the antithesis of their oppressive surroundings.
And here in 2006, society has seen little change – war continues to be good for absolutely nothing, the world is melting from its own synthetically generated heat and democracy is still the idyllic creation of sycophantic governments.
So where are the voices of this generation?
Well, as these post-modernistic times are blurred by an array of mass-media messages it seems only right that avant-garde New Yorkers TV On The Radio take the mantle of societal renegades with the release of sophomore record ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’.
Veneering and situational, this is the electro-gospel equivalent of guerrilla warfare. Militant drumming pounds with the mesmerising intensity of Liars and, combined with the southern scowl of Tunde Adebimpe, creates the foundation for a suffocating and skewed vision of angst-driven intensity.
Maintaining the opaque dysfunction of Desperate Youth Blood Thirsty Babes, Cookie Mountain sees the aural development of a rhythmically ravenous and politically perturbed band, fusing grizzle-led funk with scathing metaphoric beat poetry.
From the barren introversion of Blues Down Here to the toxic psychedelics of Wash the Day Away, Return To Cookie Mountain is a hollering call-to-arms. This is one revolution that will be televised.
You’ll also soon find that ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’ is one of those records where you forget just how many good tracks there are. Each play, you assume your mind was playing tricks on you last time out, and that the highlights must only have numbered five really. This next song is bound to be a duffer… no? OK, then definitely the next one… Erm… And try as you might, there’s just not a bad moment. The brooding ‘Playhouses’, the Bowie-aided potential single ‘Province’, the captivating waltz of ‘Dirty Whirl’ – in fact, everything here, without exception.
Now, I’m not one to get moist over Next Big Things, or pander to ‘Album Of The Year Already’ pretences, but ‘Cookie Mountain’ is special, there’s no getting round that. It’s an album free of inhibitions, free of constraints, which just allows you to marvel at what’s possible when musicians take the blinkers off and ignore the genre pigeonholes so neatly laid out for them. An über-cool indie record it may be, but as understated and underplayed as the most touching acoustica, as overtly experimental as free-form jazz, as soulful as proper RNB (not Mary J Bilge) and as instantly accessible as the most finely crafted pop.
Put plainly, it’s an album that should embarrass 99 per cent of bands out there currently claiming that their latest is really – honestly, Guv – the best they’ve got to offer. Yeah, it really is that good. And sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say so.
:: TV On The Radio ::
03 July 2006 / 4 AD / 11 Trk CD
By Parker Knoll
Return To Cookie Mountain is TV On The Radio at their experimental best. With reams of samples, the laid back melodious fusion of jazz and indie suffused in piano, trumpets and sax along with extensive bouts of electronica, effects and far away scuzzy guitars, ensure every track haunts. Dripping in soul and the kind of ghostly sounds from the 80’s 4AD / Creation stables that begat the post goth, there are plenty of alt.indie sounds that for so long seemed consigned to history. Resurrecting the echoey melodies and dark, foreboding soundtracks of Mr Shields and The Cocteaus / This Mortal Coil and wrapping them up as semi-progressive songs, with an ever so slight hint of a Ziggy Era Bowie, adds up to this sumptuous long player. It’s not worth extracting a track for a special mention –they’re all good – Darken the room – Lay back and dream.
A ‘difficult’ second album is surely less of a daunting task if you’re a pretty difficult band to begin with. But, as someone wise once quipped, all that is difficult is beautiful, and ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’ is beautiful to within a millimetre of its weird and wonderful life, despite sounding like a lurid Technicolor Sesame Street gone big screen.
In short, to be unashamedly decadent, this is the gospel for the summer. A majestic epiphany, a spellbinding antidote to World cup anthems and the guilty pleasures of the Euro-pop that’s soon to making its way back from the Med, along with lobster tans and herpes. By contrast to such tawdriness, ‘Return to Cookie Mountain’ is fascinatingly dense, soulful and utterly divine.
Is Brooklyn’s best band actually ready for radio?
by Andrew Parks
What if Cookie Mountain was TV on the Radio’s final broadcast; what if their Interscope deal was a take-the-money-and-run affair to fund their animation (Tunde Adebimpe), production (Dave Sitek) and solo (Kyp Malone) aspirations? This would be one spectacular swan song, then, a creative leap of faith so now it doesn’t matter that David Bowie’s backup vocals are buried beneath the soft piano/scattershot percussion jam that is “Province.” Sure, some of it sounds awfully similar, like the graveyard duet harmonizing of “Tonight” and “A Method,” but the former is an epic upended by Joy Division bass lines and what may or may not be a friggin’ oboe. As for unfamiliar territory, TVOTR explores cold hip-hop fusion on “I Was a Lover,” compact, creepy pop on “Hours,” and arty punk on the sole likely single, “Wolf Like Me.” That’s not even including the layers you’ll expose on further headphone listens. Give up now, guys, because it rarely gets better than this.
…they’re experimental and summon the spirit of Spiritualized, Lee Perry, the Beach Boys and Radiohead into a glorious, life-affirming entity.
When the band decide to propel their songs forwards they even come close to the kind of indie-pop that has been fuelling dancefloors everywhere this decade. ‘Wolf Like Me’, which features Celebration’s Katrina Ford, might slow down in the middle – this is TVOTR and there must be a twist – but it is after-midnight mayhem incarnate. Spellbinding, frustrating, wonderful.