It's been six years since The Radio Dept released their last studio album, Clinging to a Scheme (2010). In the interim, we've been treated to a few one-off singles, wondering whether any of them might be teasers or previews for a forthcoming album. Those singles - "Death to Fascism" (Sept 2014), "Occupied" (June 2015) and "This Repeated Sodomy" (Sept 2015) - ran the gamut on musical style: the first with a heavy electronic sound unlike anything we'd previously heard from the band, and the last conveying much of the guitar-driven atmosphere as is prevalent on their debut album, Lesser Matters (2003). When their fourth studio album, Running Out of Love (LAB158), was released in October, the only interim single that got included among its ten tracks is "Occupied".
Originating from Malmö, Sweden with current lineup of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg (Larsson), The Radio Dept has been one of my all-time favorite indie/dream pop bands. Their 2006 single "Pulling Our Weight" was my first introduction to the band. I immediately fell in love with their sound: the combination of filtered/breathy vocals, smooth melodies, and edgy guitar solos that sounded like Joy Division meets 90's shoegazing bands (e.g., Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine).
THE RADIO DEPT "Pulling Our Weight" (2006)
For the most part, Running Out of Love is classic-sounding The Radio Dept, incorporating their trademark guitar and vocal effects, layered production and well-written melodies, but with a few more electronic-influenced selections than previous albums. As for the lyrics, it is no secret that The Radio Dept is a politically and socially conscious band, having written a few politically charged songs including "The New Improved Hypocrisy" (aimed at Sweden's right wing political party) and "Freddie and the Trojan Horse" (referring to former Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt).
Running Out of Love's opening track, "Sloboda Narodu", presumably takes its name from a slogan first introduced by 1940's-era Yugoslavian partisan fighter Stjepan Filipović: "Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu" = "Death to fascism, freedom to the people". The track seems to pick up where the single "Death to Fascism" left off, but in a more softened style. The single "Swedish Guns" follows along with The Radio Dept's traditional guitar-based sound, but incorporates more synthesizers and percussion, along with lyrics that allude to Sweden's gun industry: "And guess what came to town | The Swedish guns | And guess what burned it down | The Swedish guns".
"We Got Game", "Occupied" and "Teach Me to Forget" are the most electronic tracks on Running Out of Love. The first two bring to mind mid-to-late 80's New Order - with a prevalence of synthesizers, beats and percussion, while "Teach Me to Forget" hints at 'clubby', but retreats to subdued just when you think it's about to take off. It's a great closing track to the album.
My vote for standout track would be "Committed to the Cause", with a clever bass riff that introduces and carries the entire track. The verses sound catchier than the chorus, and the song really shines in the latter instrumental part, enticing you to get up and move about.
The Radio Dept. will be touring North America in early 2017 to promote Running Out of Love, supported by Brooklyn-based band GERMANS. Keep an eye out for performances in your neck of the woods. For more information about The Radio Dept., follow them on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and check out their official website.