Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Record label: Labrador Sweden
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Sweden's Radio Dept. have spent their career to date quietly building up a devoted fanbase by filtering traditional indie and dream-pop sounds through an electronic haze. They've admirably honored their genre's history every step of the way, incorporating elements of vintage Slumberland noise-pop, sadder 80s UK indie sounds, and the kind of romantic, low-key dance-pop typically associated with Saint Etienne, or more recently, the Tough Alliance.
The run-up to the release of the Radio Dept.’s third album, Clinging to a Scheme, seemed endless by the time it finally came out in the spring of 2010. It seemed that every few months a release date was announced and then passed, with only a couple singles to show for the band’s efforts. When it did appear, it was clear that anyone hoping for a return to the fuzzy, lo-fi sound of their debut record Lesser Matters may be disappointed, as the band has unloaded almost all the aspects of the shoegaze attack that characterized their first recordings.
It’s been a weird four years for The Radio Dept since releasing their brilliant second album Pet Grief in 2006. That record was awash with lush, woozy textures – proto-chillwave if you will - but unlike the class of 2009, Radio Dept had the songs to back up their hazy soundscapes too. Since then the band has dropped off the radar, with only phantom album release-dates and a couple of disappointing singles to their name.
Whether by design or evolution, [b]The Radio Dept[/b]’s third album fits the grand scheme of all things voguish and hazy rather perfectly – though that’s not to say they’ve made a faultless record, as [b]‘Clinging To A Scheme’[/b] arguably hangs from just a few songs. [b]‘Heaven’s On Fire’[/b] starts by sampling [b]Thurston Moore[/b] urging the destruction of [i]“the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture”[/i], an anarchistic sentiment wholly incongruous to the housey synth, gentle sexy P-funk and saxophone that skip double-Dutch throughout. [b]The Radio Dept[/b] aren’t punks, they’re dreamy sweethearts who occasionally open their eyes to write majestic brilliance like [b]‘Never Follow Suit’[/b], whose baggy Balearic beat could be cheesy were it not for their delicious [b]Saint Etienne[/b]-like indolence.
Nu-gaze. Like glow-fi, it’s one of those manufactured terms that is apt to make a music listener, be it indie rock critic or just casual fan, groan with annoyance. As a rule, people’s backs go up at the idea that some convenient, shorthand taxonomy could sum up a band’s entire artistic aim. Usually it’s the sort of thing that’s terribly inaccurate, not even appropriate for a record label’s press kit, and it’s the kind of dangerously short-sighted laziness that can actually keep potential new converts away from a deserving band.
The Radio Dept.'s first full-length release in four years and third in seven years doesn't mess with their established dream pop formula. As on 2006's Pet Grief, wistful reverbed vocals languidly intertwine with melancholy synth and drum machines, creating a sound that's hardly innovative but unmistakably distinct. Perfectionism notwithstanding, the Swedish indie band apparently doesn't like to go outside its comfort zone.
It was in late 2008 that the Radio Dept. was bound to release their third album Clinging to a Scheme. While it is unknown whether this was the material to actually follow up Pet Grief, time has certainly become the major factor concerning the Swedish minimalists’ latest work. In spite of that, even the most impatient won’t mind.
Measured Swedish outfit come up with new material most definitely worth the wait. Camilla Pia 2010 It’s been a head-scratchingly long time since we last heard from The Radio Dept. – four get-a-bloody-move-on years to be exact And despite being together in one form or another since the mid-90s, the group has only put out three records, including this one.