Sweden is known for many things. Blondes, fish, free health care, and recently, another great band with “radio” in their name that is not fronted by Thom Yorke.
The Radio Dept. have released three albums of synth and guitar based shoegaze dreampop that seem both immediate and explorative. Given that the band has released three albums in just a few years, it’s nice to see they are finally getting some recognition after last year’s amazing album, Clinging to a Scheme. This album included my favorite track of last year, “The Video Dept.”, a classic reverb-soaked shoegaze track about longing for lost love, a possible drug addiction, and how this was keeping the failing relationship together. With heartbreaking lyrics such as “I have kept your diary on tape/I’ve covered every angle of your face/from ear to ear and then you’d smile/then disappear for a while”, you can feel the hurt and longing, which makes the track so much stronger.
Since the band’s recent success with their latest album, they just played their first live show in the states last year. Having wondered how their sound would translate well live, with strange, synth driven songs like “Against the Tide”, or piano and guitar power pop in “Heaven’s on Fire”, I was thankful that a good recording from a live show earlier this year surfaced. The band was mostly light lipped, and let their songs do the talking, with a very mellow, engaging and flowing performance. There wasn’t a dull moment and they sounded like they were very much in charge of their setting and lost in the music at the same time. And in just a week or so, I will be happy to get lost with them.