Album Reviews

Album Review: The Radio Dept – Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (Labrador)

By | Published on Monday 13 December 2010

The Radio Dept

Formed in Lund, Sweden, in the late 1990s, The Radio Dept have been one of the most successful and important Scandinavian bands of this century thus far, signed to the influential Labrador Records label. This compilation is a chronological overview of the last decade of recordings, across three albums, b-sides and non-album tracks, demonstrating not only a knack for gifted songwriting but also the evolution in their sound across their three albums.

Unlike most of their contemporaries, who specialised in twee indie-pop, The Radio Dept emerged with a sound that was influenced by early 90s shoegaze and dream-pop – My Bloody Valentine, The Cocteau Twins and The Jesus And Mary Chain are obvious comparisons. 2003’s ‘Lesser Matters’, which contributes ‘Why Won’t You Talk About It?’, ‘Where The Damage Isn’t Already Done’ and ‘Ewan’ to this compilation was one of the most favourably reviewed albums of that year and didn’t escape the attention of Sofia Coppola, who used a track in her film ‘Marie Antoinette’.

Never a band to rest on their laurels, they completely changed tack with distortion replaced by synthesisers on second album, ‘Pet Grief’ (2006). Despite the plaudits given to this one, only ‘The Worst Taste In Music’ makes the cut, which is a tad disappointing. Unsurprisingly, tracks from the latest studio album, April’s ‘Clinging To A Scheme’ (‘David’, ‘Heaven’s on Fire’, ‘Never Followed Suit’) feature more prominently, as well as the most recent single, ‘The New Improved Hypocrisy’.

Although there’s no significant drop in quality between the older and later releases, it would have been a fairer retrospective if each album contributed a more or less equal number of tracks, though this is offset somewhat by the inclusion of rarer recordings, so that it doesn’t feel so singles-heavy. Although fans will no doubt already own most of their previous releases, this is a worthy primer for those less familiar with the band. KW

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