I’m just finishing up my review for the new Jagwar Ma album, and I decided to pick this album up, as The Radio Dept. have made waves within the indie scene. Whereas the Jagwar Ma album payed clear homage to the Madchester greats (Shaun Ryder is the most important poet of the past 30 years), The Radio Dept. show a clear New Order influence. But that’s not all, and I hate oversimplifying music. This is a varied album, not only does it showcase the dream pop aesthetic that defined the band’s earlier releases, but it also makes jumps into neo psychedelia at times, indicative of the band’s new approach to music. This is definitely the most forceful album by the Swedish band known for their softer dream pop, one could say “lounge music”. It gets more interesting as the album progresses, as it dives into electronic and dance elements; again comes the New Order references, and that’s a completely fair argument, the production isn’t what I would have hoped for, I was hoping for a New Order sound that fits in with a modern, 21st century setting. This album is also described by the band as a political statement, and it shows. The band calls it a protest album, but I’m not really sure what modern political issue they are protesting. The subject material in the lyrics deals with the freedom movement in Yugoslavia under axis rule, with the exclamation “Freedom now”. I don’t find this very original (much like the album as a whole) and I can’t really determine what modern situation they are alluding to with this, Sweden is a pretty free country (well, technically not, but that’s a discussion for another day), and I can’t imagine this band being right leaning so the opening song is a bit lost on me. From there on out though, the political themes become more explicit and applicable to modern society. The track “Swedish Guns” addresses Sweden’s arms industry (look this up, it’s interesting that a socialist country can produce companies like Bofors). The track “We Got Game” addresses police brutality, which I can definitely relate to, and it certainly is applicable for the modern world.
In conclusion, it’s a decent record. It shows The Radio Dept. moving from their lighter earlier catalog to a new, more developed sound. The political themes in it add another facet to the music, though I’m not sure if it adds enough for it to be worth it.
Recommended if you like: New Order
Favorite Tracks: 2, 3, 10