Album Reviews

Album Review: The Radio Dept – Clinging To A Scheme (Labrador)

By | Published on Thursday 1 April 2010

The Radio Dept

[This album is so nice, we reviewed it twice. Okay? We did this on purpose, yeah? Just as long as we’re all clear on that. Good.]

‘Clinging To A Scheme’ is The Radio Dept’s eagerly awaited third studio album, arriving a whopping four years since their last release with the weight of promise and reputation on its shoulders; it does not disappoint.

Admittedly, I got into this band through the (amazing) ‘Marie Antoinette’ soundtrack, and was initially awed by the ethereal quality of Johan Duncanson’s voice and the way that it melded with the bands use of melodic, scuzzy guitar – while that superb quality hasn’t changed, the band’s sound has progressed to further heights.

I think of The Radio Dept’s music as music that could soundtrack dreams, and ‘Clinging To A Scheme’ has refined that notion furthermore. It’s less (charmfully) messy than previous works, but it’s not too clean, either – the haze still lingers, particularly in the aptly titled ‘Memory Loss’ and the almost Film Noir-ish ‘David’. Jesus and Mary Chain-esque ‘This Time Around’ is a definite favourite, but all in all, ‘Clinging To A Scheme’ is a wonderful all-rounder of damn good quality song writing, making and conjuring.

It’s a collection of tunes that have been appropriately labelled “mythical krautrock”, and was worth every second of the wait. TW

Swedish three-piece The Radio Dept might reside on the hyper-twee Labradaor records label, but of all the bands on the label, they might also be the only one that doesn’t trade on cutesy lyrics and twinkly guitar lines. Sure, there’s still the occasional orchestra hit on the keyboards and there’s always a solid drum machine loop backing things up, but the band like to make things a little less obvious than their contemporaries.

Like a conifer forest in the fog, there’s a fuzz-laden sound on this record that makes it tricky to find out exactly where things are going. A melancholy slant in the lyrics adds to the downbeat mood – but it’s not “I’ve lost my girlfriend”-downbeat, it’s “Darn. We’re snowed in again. Fetch the boardgames, Lars”-downbeat. The fifth track, ‘A Token Of Gratitude’, stands out as the best example of this – led by a beat from a ping-pong tournament and permeated with throbbing synths, it speaks volumes about exactly what the Radio Dept are all about.

‘Clinging To A Scheme’ won’t shock and awe anyone familiar with the band’s music, but newcomers with a taste for Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine and Interpol’s quieter moments will find a smorgasbord of delights awaiting on this record. DG

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