The Radio Dept. - Clinging To A Scheme
Hitting shops both online and off on April 21st this year, dream-pop outfit The Radio Dept. have finally got around to giving us their third full-length album. It's been four years in the making for the band from Lund, Sweden and despite going through various line-up changes (I think this is maybe their 5th incarnation to date) they still feature founder member Johan Duncanson on guitar and vocals and longtime collaborator Martin Carlberg on guitar; Daniel Tjäder is now on keyboards and rounds up the three. But what about the album itself?
Swedish pop is enjoying a resurgence of late and The Radio Dept. seem well-placed to ascend the long and winding stairs to European stardom - 'Clinging To A Scheme' still has the signature blend of synths and looping piano riffs that effectively give it the label 'dream pop' but add the word 'experimental' into the mix and life suddenly gets a little more interesting. Playing with textures, layers and noises is a much better way to float through a fantasy soundscape than on a too-familiar cloud of twanging and huffing.
That said, the unfamiliar factor seems to influence the sound of the album in that the subject matter can be very ambiguous. To the point where it's impossible to determine. Sometimes it's the lyrics, sometimes it's the seperate, disengaged nature of Duncanson's voice - it seems to sit further off from the songs than the layers do. 'Four Months In The Shade' is the lone instrumental track, and very nice it is too - a bit darker, a bit more full-bodied.
The problem with 'Clinging To A Scheme' is that while it's nice to listen to and interesting at points, when it gets to the end you really can't remember what actually happened. You wouldn't recognise any of the songs if someone played them to you - they're vaguely familiar but that's about it. A disappointingly average record.
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