The Radio Dept. are a shoegaze/dream-pop duo from Sweden. Formed in the late 90s, they are one of the classiest and most under-appreciated acts of the last musical decade. Soldiering along with humility and grace, these dudes have been quietly delivering a dynasty of golden nuggets, with each release better than the last. Singer/guitarist and principle songwriter Johan Duncanson is in constant battle with his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies, consequently writing literally dozens of half-completed songs before losing interest and moving onto the next. Apparently with their latest album, 2010’s magnificent “Clinging to a Scheme”, they were in the studio for 3 full years, with nary a finished song to show for it (despite a reported 100+ in progress). In their astonishment and frustration, the group agreed to simply commit to see the current 10 tracks to completion and cash in the chips. If you listen to that album, you’ll join me in wondering what the other bagillion turfed songs sound like, and which Swede you’d have to rob to attain them.
I have my partner to thank for showing me this group, via Sofia Coppola’s perfect placement of their accompaniment in pivotal, vulnerable film scenes. Alongside bands like The Strokes, The Drums, and Little Joy, The Radio Dept. prove once again that very little is needed to create memorable, meaningful and gorgeous music. With rarely more than a handful of fuzzed-out riffs, uninvolved lyrical phrases, a keyboard line or two, and a bare naked drum machine, they casually and effortlessly capture the listener. They just feel good to hear… deeper and deeper, way, way down. I only know the names of like 2 Radio Dept. songs because 99% of the time I throw on any one of their albums, I simply sit back and enjoy the whole ride. I can say with confidence that whenever someone piloting the musical selection picks Radio Dept., I never whine. And I’m a huge whiner.
Since their international debut in 2000, The Radio Dept. have remained a tortoise amongst fleeting hares in the music scene, with each album more refined, catchy, and satisfying that its predecessor. Their LPs include 2003’s “Lesser Matters”, 2006’s “Pet Grief”, and 2010’s “Clinging to a Scheme”, with 6 robust EPs, each featuring 3-5 top-quality songs. Update: at long last, LP #4 hath arrived – “Running out of Love” is a melancholic, stoned-out collective flourished with synth hooks only The Radio Dept. know how to craft (try the open letter This Thing Was Bound To Happen).
Favourite track: Every Time… it’s like a billowy cloud hugging your heart.