Release Date: Oct 21, 2016
Record label: Labrador
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
You can't listen to The Radio Dept., least of all Running Out Of Love, in the absence of political context. To the more removed among us, Sweden is the portrait of bliss - idyllic surrounds, progressive laws, good-looking humans. It's a role model for the rest of our feuding, collapsing nations. This is a country that has its shit together, passing laws against hate speech on the internet, while the rest of us struggle to revive our economies, feed our starving masses, and keep death tolls down to an acceptable minimum.
The Radio Dept. have belonged in the top ranks of indie pop since the middle of the last decade, making immaculate music with indelible melodies and sardonic wit, much like fellow countrymen Jens Lekman and the Tough Alliance. The band’s sonic touchstones are familiar—shoegaze, ‘80s pop of the New Order variety, house music, etc.—but these influences are filtered through their unassuming yet distinctive aesthetic, which treats Johan Duncason’s vocals like another instrument in a weightless bed of sound.
Whether it’s the rousing folk of Pete Seeger or the thrashing anthems of Rage Against the Machine, protest music is most often associated with the guitar. Perhaps the easy portability of the instrument has helped it in this regard—any asshole can whip out an acoustic guitar and instigate a chant at a rally, after all. Guitars can easily be made loud and aggressive, and they continue to be the favored instruments of straight white men everywhere with something to say.
After a prolonged gestation period that included legal battles with their longtime label Labrador, an album that they started and discarded, and a change in musical direction, in 2016 the Radio Dept. issued their first album in six years. Running Out of Love showcased their immersion in various forms of dance music and their deep interest in politics, while still delivering the strong hooks and sweeping melodies their music always had.
Stockholm, Sweden's the Radio Dept. are one of the few bands out there that can pull off making political music without forcing the message upon the listener. They've been doing it for years — from 2008's "Freddie and the Trojan Horse" to 2014's "Death to Fascism" — but their fourth album, Running Out of Love, is their most direct manifesto yet.Released six-and-a-half years after 2010's Clinging to a Scheme, Running Out of Love might feel like a long time coming for fans of the band, but it's all because of a lengthy court case trying to free themselves from an "unfair" publishing deal with label Labrador.
Swedish dream pop band The Radio Dept’s fourth album Running Out Of Love sees the band looking to make up for lost time. After a six-year absence enforced by a legal battle with their publisher, they return frustrated with the state of Swedish life, abandoning their sunny disposition to create a dystopian record dabbling in moody electronica and R'n'B. Running Out Of Love’s direction isn’t apparent at first, with deceptive opening track Slobada Naru based around upbeat timpani taps and chiming guitars.
Swedish outfit The Radio Dept. explores some darker spaces on their first studio album since 2010's Clinging to a Scheme, with their irrepressible pop gifts maintaining a buoyancy that doesn't disrupt the tenor of the lyrics..
What the world needs now, is love sweet love. So sang Burt Bacharach way back when. Sadly despite the somewhat cheesy nature of the song there’s not a savoury version, and it’s best to only have a bit of sweet love in case you get a case of passionate diabetes. Written in 1965, a period when love was pretty much everywhere thanks to The Beatles and flower power, the song is perhaps needed more now than ever.
Since their acclaimed debut, 2003’s Lesser Matters, Sweden’s the Radio Dept. have been known for their defiantly lo-fi brand of dream-pop, favoring scratchy, ear-numbing guitars and tinny Casio beats over the lusher sounds of their peers. This became a calling card, something that set them apart.
Protest music doesn’t need to pummel eardrums. Sure, it more often than not goes for the throat with gusto, but listen closely to the latest from The Radio Dept. — Running Out of Love, the Swedish dream pop outfit’s first record in six years — and you’ll hear the push for change even in the sweetest of moments. Sure, Johan Duncanson and Martin Larsson fill their album with bouncy African rhythms, plinking synths, and some of the sleepiest vocal melodies you’ll find this side of The Postal Service, but they use those soft tools to voice their discontent with oppressors, racists, fascists, and the state of their homeland.
It’s been a long time since The Radio Dept. released Clinging To A Scheme. A six year leave of absence in fact, because why not. April 2010; Gordon Brown had a few days earlier dissolved parliament triggering an early general election; volcanic ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull had ruined UK Easter holiday plans by grounding flights for days, and Instagram was just the Beta-glint in some Silicon Valley iconoclast’s eye.
Wow, has it really been six years since this terrific Swedish pop band’s last lp? Yup, it sure has, Clinging to a Scheme was in 2010 so what was up? Apparently they had some legal woes and re-recorded the album at least twice, but here it is. I have to admit it took me a bit to appreciate this new direction. Now that’s not to say that they’ve gone ahead and made a death metal album or anything, the same basic sound is here, but a bit dancier and more electronic groove.
You only have to look at the cover of Running Out Of Love to realise that The Radio Dept. are waging war. Over its ten songs Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg do battle with the Swedish government, fascists, racists and their (now ex) record company. In periods of political unrest artists of a certain calibre are driven by the need to stand up and be counted.
The Radio Dept. are a curious band. Their music could be easily deemed as nostalgic, yet it’s uncertain what it’s nostalgic for. Their work is often dreamy, yet sharing an unbeatable sense of reality and politics. Over the past few years The Radio Dept. have created, over a wall of shoegaze and ….