TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek brings balloons and 21st century funk to the party......
When a musical prodigy such as Dave Sitek decides to do a solo album, fans worry.....Will he grab for the dollars and fill it with tracks featuring Kanye West and Lady Gaga? Will he discover South American cowboy music and try to feed to the masses? Will it sound completely different because he recorded it on the West Coast? Will he go acoustic???? Luckily for his fans, none of these scenarios are the case and what you get is another piece of musical genius by a producer who can do no wrong.
Maximum Balloon sounds more like a side project of TV on the Radio than an actual solo joint as the 'sound' that Dave has created over the years with his band as well as his production work with The Liars and Yeah Yeah Yeahs is definitely signature at this point. Soaring dirty synths, hip-shaking grooves, stacks of vocals that surf melodies and hooks so sharp they stay stuck in your ears for years are all found here but with a pinch of sun, fun and the sense that Dave traded in his painted-on Levis for a pair of loose shorts so he could dance a little.
Case in point is the beginning track, 'Groove Me' featuring rapper Theophilus London that sounds like a grown-up game of Double Dutch with funky guitar strums bouncing off Atari styled keyboards almost daring you to stand still as everyone around you on the playground/dancefloor feels the groove. Equally funky and head-nodding are 'Tiger' featuring Dragons of Zynth’s Aku Orraca-Tetteh that bumps with bass, a horn section and yes, even a cowbell that moves you like it should and the electro power ballad, 'If You Return' where Little Dragon does her best to make a Sunset Blvd cruising song something you could enjoy not only in California but also Japan. David Byrne also stops by to lend his voice to the bouncing, horn-driven 'Apartment Wrestling' which almost sounds like a TVOTR vs Talking Heads mash-up as Byrnes lyrics and energy on the track sound as though he recorded it years ago when he was still rocking the oversized suit and burning down your house. If any of this is too much palm trees and plastic surgery for Dave's concrete fans on the East Coast they will be pleased with the inclusion of tracks with TVOTR's co-conspirators, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, where each is given room to breathe and create tracks that sound like new releases from what can only be described as one of the most important bands of the last century.
The sun sets in L.A. just as it does in Brooklyn and with this release Dave Sitek has proven what many of us already know, that most everything he touches turns to gold. Many solo projects by producers and front men seem to come across as a mish-mash of cuts leftover from albums where they are rolling the dice with a vocalist but Maximum Balloon is 10 tracks of snake eyes constructed as an album that not only tells a story but also makes you shake your butt a little......never has a little bit of plastic filled with helium felt so heavy.