More than a decade after emerging from Brooklyn as a leader of the local indie renaissance, TV on the Radio could invite the kinds of criticisms often hurled at its hometown -- that it was better when it was dirtier, edgier and a little dangerous. But few fans have griped about the band's steadily increasing palatability, a testament to how gracefully it has smoothed out and streamlined its original sound, a grinding mix of noisy art-rock and grubby urban soul. Its fifth album is another successful step toward the mainstream.
Actually, Seeds is a giant leap. And not just because of how multi-instrumentalist/producer Dave Sitek builds on 2011's Nine Types of Light, keeping the poppier sheen but adding a jolt of buoyant, often major-key vitality. Three years after losing bassist Gerard Smith to lung cancer, TVOTR manages to grow from the guarded optimism of its gruff early albums to full-on hopefulness. This record buzzes with a spiritual energy that singers Babatunde Adebimpe (now based in Los Angeles, like Sitek) and Kyp Malone's howls can't obscure. "Caught up in a feeling," the former announces on "Ride," as giddy 16th-note piano recalls buddy David Bowie's "Heroes." Adebimpe follows his gut "right through the ceiling" on the song, landing on the same cloud Malone attains during the crackling synth-pop slow-burner "Love Stained." On the new-wave grown-folks club jam "Right Now," they leaflet the dancefloor with a simple inspirational message: "The moment's right now."