Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love

I have been a fan of the perfectly crafted indie pop of Sweden's The Radio Dept. since hearing their debut album, Lesser Matters, in 2003.  While the band has gone through several line-ups, and now is down to long-term core members Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg, it has consistently turned out melodic, dreamy pop tunes marked by their bittersweet tones and consistent high quality.  We have had a long wait for a new album after the deservedly praised 2010 release Clinging To A Scheme, but the wait is over with last week's arrival of Running Out Of Love.

For those that recall The Radio Dept. as a guitar-oriented dream pop band focusing on personal themes, Running Out Of Love contains a few surprises.  First, the instrumentation here is largely electronic  -- not in the EDM vein, but more in the New Order/Pet Shop Boys channel, with touches of Detroit house and some baggy beats.  Of course, a great song is a great song, regardless of the existence of guitars, and the band's knack for melody and sophisticated song dynamics, and Duncanson's softly accessible vocals, remain welcome constants in the mix.  The second surprise is that the album is pointedly topical.  Addressing politics, rising racism and fascism, xenophobia, and social disaffection, the album paints a darkly dystopian picture of the modern world.  In "Occupied" they even turn aim their glare at their record label, due to a contract dispute (a relationship since patched up, I believe).  I expect I share a lot of the duo's politics, but whether you do or do not, I repeat: A great song is a great song.  And this album is comprised of ten great songs.  If you miss the idea of guitars, I'll note that it is very likely that The Radio Dept. has a thick catalog of draft guitar tunes that may reach your ears in the future.  But in the meantime, enjoy one of their finest and most consistent efforts -- Running Out Of Love.  I suspect that you won't miss the guitars at all.

Running Out of Love is out now via Stockholm's Labrador Records.

Labrador Records

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