July 1, 2010

The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

“People see rock and roll as, as youth culture, and when youth culture becomes
monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do? Do you- do you
have any idea? I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is
destroying youth culture.” – spoken opening to Heaven’s on Fire

After two pretty mediocre albums, the Swedes spent four years on this peculiar
piece of dream-pop. No, they’re no destroying any capitalist processes here
(they’re signed to Labrador), so their opening quote is a little misplaced. But, hey,
they’re making an “indie” statement, whatever that means.
The album is best enjoyed not picturing destruction of any kind, as the songs
evoke thoughts of murky dark blues and greens. While The Pains of Being Pure
at Heart recently broke open the doors for upbeat shoegaze and dream-pop, The
Radio Dept has spent the last half-decade working on a mellower variety. Tracks
like Heaven’s on Fire, The Video Dept, and David drive the album, and make up
for weaker bits on Never Follow Suit and Four Months in the Shade.
There’s a lot going on here. Reverbed vocals, jangly guitars, and muted drums
are all pretty important to The Radio Dept’s sound. Upbeat songs aside,
Clinging to a Scheme will lose the casual listener very quickly, and is best
listened to quietly through headphones or speakers, not blared in your car.
Although the cover leaves much to be desired, the Swedish dream-poppers do
something right on this mellow dream-pop record.


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