It takes either a very confident or very conceited band to open an album with a five-and-a-half-minute-long song; but TV on the Radio can't possibly be accused of arrogance. The New York band have steadily built a reputation as innovative stalwarts of a New York scene that has blossomed over the past two years - but they've never had to shout that fact from the rooftops. Even their last album - 2006's stunning 'Return to Cookie Mountain' - had a subtlety to it that was as refreshing as it was evocative.
It certainly provided the quintet with the right platform to make their third studio album a memorable one, too; Dear Science, already mentally topping the 'year end' list of many bloggers, critics and music fans the world over, is undoubtedly the most resilient and accomplished collection of songs that TV on the Radio have written yet.
Their hidden weapon is one David Sitek. Producer, mixer, photographer and artist extraordinaire, Sitek's work with the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, Foals and Scarlett Johansson over the past few years has perhaps created an invaluable well of ideas for the geeky guitarist to draw from for his own band's material. In that respect, the 'science' of the title seems an apt reference - each one of these songs sound like a successful experiment (taking in funk, soul, pop, electro and rock) without alienating the listener in any way.
Take the atmospheric epics of Halfway Home and Lover's Day, for example, or the rapid-fire party ambience of Dancing Choose, or even the gorgeous, orchestral elements of Family Tree and Love Dog - they're all thoroughly compelling tracks that shake, swing and sparkle, almost like they're being made up as they go along.
Influences - from Beck to Bowie - are tangible, too, but these songs are far from mere byproducts of musical taste. Dear Science - why weren't you this irresistible in school?