Of course, great things about collecting vinyl are the pleasures of shuffling through stacks at the record store or dropping the needle on the spinning wax, enjoying that wide range of sound.
Yet the thing that draws me to vinyl more than anything else is the artwork – something not really found on MP3s or other current forms of music distribution. Some artists and labels take advantage of the canvas that records present. Even basic black vinyl with a simple sleeve can be stunning, if it has a giant, eye-catching cover or label. Vinyl, unlike the MP3 or CD, can be a piece of art that blows consumers away.
TV On the Radio's new album “Seeds,” released in November, is a perfect example. The music is something else – another great offering from the Brooklyn band that continues to meld pop, rock and experimental music to a stunning degree – but it's the packaging that truly sets the release apart.
Housed in a gatefold sleeve, the release comes with two art books (one with lyrics and the other just with pictures), two colored LPs and a lenticular plastic sheet. The book and LPs are pretty common – many releases have deluxe editions with colored records – but the lenticular sheet is something different entirely.
The black film is used to animate the record's artwork. When the sheet is placed over the cover, back and the art books, the type and pictures start to move, making the art come alive.
TV On the Radio lead singer Tunde Adebimpe studied animation in school, and his touches are all over this packaging. It's amazing and interactive, a feature I hope I see again.
The animation is wonderfully complementary to the music. TV On the Radio has never been stagnant; its music is full of energy – and animation.
This new release is the band’s poppiest yet. For the first time, vocals by Adebimpe and Kyp Malone are front and center. Swirling instrumentals are pushed into the background, highlighting the singers’ hooks and choruses.
“Seeds” is not the band's best work – that still goes to 2008's “Dear Science” – but it's the group’s most immediate, sincere and heartbreaking recording. It's beautiful music highlighted by stunning artwork – a must-buy.
TV On the Radio, ‘Seeds’
Price: $25.98 on vinyl