Maximum Balloon Maximum Balloon

As guitarist and producer, Dave Sitek is an integral part of the TV on the Radio machine. He reins in the disparate sounds of the band ― Jaleel Bunton's propulsive drumming, Sitek's own silky keyboards, Kyp Malone's all-around ferocity ― unifying them, turning five members' worth of genius into a coherent whole. What he can't do, however, is make a set of mightily similar, underwhelming songs into a great album. Under the moniker Maximum Balloon, Sitek has co-written a reccord that a press release aptly characterized as "not quite a solo album." It's not a bad album, necessarily; the problem with Maximum Balloon lies mainly in the fact that the majority of songwriters, including an overstretched Karen O., have neither the songwriting chops of TV on the Radio's members (ironically, it's dual TVotR members Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone who contribute the best two tracks) nor the multi-faceted musical approach of Sitek's main band. The result is a release that, while occasionally enjoyable, rarely impresses and often drags. Maximum Balloon provides a sampling of TVotR-related tunes while the band are on hiatus, but nobody's going to confuse Sitek's album with the real deal. (Interscope)