Make war, not love

If the end of all things decent and good in the world is truly upon us, TV on the Radio will not go quietly.

If there is no chance of getting to heaven, the Brooklyn quintet seems to figure, we might as well raise some hell. “Return to Cookie Mountain” wants to ensure that plenty of noise is made in the process.

TV on the Radio often hides behind their own brand of musical chaos, allowing elements of skuzzy electronica, arty post-punk and dreamy gospel pop to speak for their opinions on the current state of the world.

It is no surprise then that “Cookie Mountain,” TV on the Radio’s second full-length album and major-label debut, begins with the unsettling “I Was a Lover.” A jarring burst of sad, gorgeous noise, horn samples bellow like dying elephants while fuzzy guitars squeal over stunted, start-stop drum machine beats.

Light, almost cheery piano riffs slink in midway through as if to suggest a small glimmer of hope. But TV on the Radio refuses to let the listener off that easily. Within seconds, they are quickly dissolved by the storm of guitars again.

“I Was a Lover” is a profoundly gothic ballad of unspoken battles and struggles to find connections. And this conflict marches on for the rest of “Cookie Mountain.”

Vocalist Tunde Adebimpe’s howl is one of the album’s major highlights, a commanding boom reminiscent of throaty Tibetan moans and haunting African chants. Adebimpe alone is capable of sinking hearts and shaking bones, but when combined with the backing vocals of Kyp Malone, a net of thick, layered sound on par with any instrument is cast. Longtime fan David Bowie even joins the mix, lending his pipes to the soaring “Province.”

“Let the Devil In” employs Malone’s yelping baritone as the head of a chorus of shouting. “They let the devil in, he brought his pirate friends / they brought a hunger for blood and flesh and bone and skin,” he cries alongside the chainsaw guitars and military-like drums. The song goes on to suggest that everyone should enjoy the chariot ride up to the Pearly Gates, because upon arrival, we won’t be let inside.

“Hours” tackles similar dystopian themes, predicting a grim future overseen by ignorant fools through more sinister horn riffs and apocalyptic organs.

TV on the Radio constructs their music to drone and consume which surprisingly never bores but occasionally swallows.

Many of “Cookie Mountain’s” lyrics are forced to surrender to overpowering sound, the album’s only shame since the words are just as emotionally heavy as the music.

Still, tracks like “Tonight” give them the chance they deserve. Containing hardly any distinguishable instruments, the song is an eerie swirl of sound that laments of life’s increasingly measly portions.

The beautifully orchestrated moments of “Return to Cookie Mountain” could have made the record a soundtrack for lovers. But just as “I Was a Lover” suggests, that notion is past-tense. Making war became our first priority instead, so noise is what we are going to get.