The RADIO DEPT. – ” Clinging to a Scheme ” Released 19th April 2010

Posted: May 31, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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From the beginning Duncanson began murmuring above the jangly fray of “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done, The Radio Dept. endeared themselves to wistful listeners and movie montages of sunlight passing through trees, but their music continually defied being preserved in amber. In retrospect, their 2003 debut “Lesser Matters” was a record caught between times; its achingly sincere sketches of post-grad aimlessness and bus commutes could easily pass for lost demos sent to Sarah Records, its blasts of staticky shoegaze and chintzy synth drums engineered for Bandcamp’s lo-fi crowd had the site not launched five years later.

Their follow-up, 2006’s Pet Grief, refined the band with Angelo Badalamenti–approved synths and Italo disco drum loops, but Duncanson’s voice remained at the center of their orbit like a semi-lucid, all-knowing voice delivering angsty truths through a buzzy intercom. Despite landing a whopping three songs on Sofia Coppola’s soundtrack for Marie Antoinette later in 2006, The Radio Dept. kept to select gigs around Europe and releasing one-off singles, letting the internet do the heavy promotional lifting for them. By the time their next record was on the horizon, The Radio Dept. were either modern ambassadors of dream pop or approaching a decade of being perpetual underrated, depending on who you asked.

Clinging to a Scheme their third studio album by this Swedish indie pop band was released on 19th April 2010 by Labrador Records.  The cover features a still from news footage of an American soldier smoking marijuana from the barrel of a shotgun while stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Clinging to a Scheme, released ten years ago , didn’t become the band’s most quintessential album out of a seismic change in approach. If anything, The Radio Dept. seem to embrace on Clinging that they’re a band most comfortable being pulled in at least five different directions sonically.

In an age where bands dabbling in different cultural sounds started getting clocked more often for problematic pastiches, Clinging squeezed in dub aesthetics (“Never Follow Suit”), early ’90s hip-hop-indebted production (“David”), and a foreshadowing of their own techno ambition on 2016’s Running Out of Love (“Four Months in the Shade”) with reverent precision across a tight thirty-four minutes. The album’s lead singles, “David” and “Heaven’s on Fire,” are such towering examples of indie pop’s crossover potential.

Clinging to a Scheme set a euphoric potential for both great dream pop records and coming-of-age documents by nailing the balance between heart-on-sleeve lyricism and telling ambience. “Do I love you? Yes, I love you, but easy come, easy go,” Duncanson lilts in a nod to The Blue Nile on “A Token of Gratitude.” A guitar loop jolts to life at the reference and, for a few seconds, you’d think “Gratitude” could’ve been the for every scene featuring two people making eyes at each other from across a party. Instead, “Gratitude” decomposes into hiccuping lo-fi house that sounds like leaving a party early and mulling over missed opportunities as the music muffles outside.

“Gratitude,” appropriately enough, was inspired by an impassioned fan letter the band received during recording, but there might not be a better way to explain Clinging to a Scheme’s endurance than a song about music fandom that could be eulogizing love itself. The Radio Dept. will likely always be by and for passionate record collectors only.

The Radio Dept.

  • Johan Duncanson
  • Martin Carlberg
  • Daniel Tjäder

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