Every time I listen to the Swedish group The Radio Dept. it brings up strong feelings of nostalgia. It makes sense. They were a band that emerged in the early noughties when I was growing up, slinging around their own dreamy brand of boyish sensitivity. Listening to them all those years ago you couldn’t help but imagine a romantic Scandinavian world just outside your window.
Headlining their own show tonight at the Scala in London (January 31st) , Johan Duncanson and Martin Larsson, both original founding members bring a good dose of Swedish dream-pop to an anticipated sold out room. At a time when negativity permeates the world, it’s great to have a band that fills the room with their trademark melodic sweetness. They are a band of few words but it’s clear that their legion of boy fans and doll-eyed girls don’t need words as they sway to their every note.
They are a band that have never been afraid to experiment in their career, swinging through a Happy Mondays’eqsue Committed to the cause, or the surprisingly housey’ tune We Got Game. But it’s their sad pop songs that elevate their work to such a mark of perfection. Songs like Never Follow Suite, Bus and Worse Taste in Music are proof that this group can craft a brilliantly melodic piece of work within three minutes, and leave you wanting so much more. Call it dream pop, shoegazing, whatever you want, it’s just well made music. Johan’s voice is tender, like a sulky protagonist in that arthouse film whom no one understands.
In 2003 The Radio Dept’s first record Lesser Matter came out through XL Recordings (Adele, Vampire Weekend) propelling them to notoriety in the indie world. British music rag NME gave them 10/10 and then Sofia Coppolla came knocking for her 2006 film Marie Antoinette film which sent their profile sky rocketing. It was shortly thereafter that they hit an unfortunate road block, legal battles and creative differences caused the band to halt their career. In 2011 they released a best of LP, titled Passive Aggressive (no pun intended?), and it’s been five years since we’ve heard anything.
Their latest record Running Out Love signals a band that has their creative juices pumping again, with their latest politically inspired pop single Swedish Guns and Twin Peaksy’ tinged Occupied, they haven’t lost any of their melodic finesse. After the audience stamp their feet begging for more, they return in acoustic mode to get those heartstrings going again with a lone encore, 1995. It might be an evening filled with nostalgia, but there’s no denying the quality of this band. My message to them – don’t leave such a long break in-between records again!
Their latest LP Running Out Love is out now through Labrador.