March 19, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it an A

TV ON THE RADIO Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes Touch and Go

More post-punk from Brooklyn? Whitey, please. But wait — this multiculti trio is something else, as you can tell from the very first track: an industrial march of sinister synth bass, heaving horns, and rapid-fire drum programming beneath the swingin’ new-new-jack vocals of Tunde Adebimpe, who sounds like Prince pal Morris Day with a broken vocoder and a fistful of Vicodin. It only gets better and stranger and more surprising from there, with multitracked Beach Boys harmonies draped over Public Image Ltd.-style punk drones, or tortured soul exhortations riding a Roxy Music proto-new-wave shimmy. It’s that very rare thing: a totally fresh — and utterly engaging — sound. OR IF BOOKS ARE MORE YOUR SPEED Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock ‘n’ Roll (Palgrave Macmillan), an enlightening new collection edited by rock critic Kandia Crazy Horse, should offer you some perspective. Desperate Youth: A

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