TV on the Radio’s fifth studio album is the sound of healing – but first, it’s the sound of a band going over its wounds, and boy, do they run deep. On opener “Quartz,” singer Tunde Adebimpe cries, “How much do I love you?/How hard must we try?” over intense percussion; on standout cut “Careful You,” an industrial groove backs a series of manic pleas: “Can we talk?/Can we not? . . . Won’t you tell me right now?” It isn’t until halfway through Seeds, on “Ride,” that the heartache cools into an instrumental wash, followed by a melody so bright and optimistic you can almost picture a Lisa Frank unicorn prancing in.
These emotional swings, from song to song, lyric to lyric, are nothing new for the Brooklyn quartet. But they have an extra resonance on the band’s first LP since losing bassist Gerard Smith to cancer in 2011. TV on the Radio spent much of the past three years taking it slow, releasing a couple of one-off singles and playing a handful of festival dates. In some ways, Seeds is a tentative return: There are fewer risks taken here than on previous albums (though the New Wave chase “Happy Idiot” and the Ramones-y “Lazerray” are worthy exceptions). TVOTR’s boldest move this time around is starting over. “Rain comes down like it always does,” Adebimpe sings on the title track. “This time I’ve got seeds on ground.”