Review Summary: The Radio Dept return, as dreamy and frustratingly unassuming as ever.
Two things happened on September 10th 2008: The Radio Dept. didn’t release their third record, Clinging to a Scheme, and the Large Hadron Collider was put into motion in Switzerland, a machine that may as well have lived up to popular myth and ripped some sort of microscopic, cartoonish black hole out of thin air, to suck the disappointment right out of every fan wondering what the *** was happening with that album. With promises of recording in late 2006, and September 10th 2008 set as a firm release date, it was more than a little underwhelming that by June 2009, all we’d gotten was a single from the album. Now, almost four years on from those recording sessions, Clinging to a Scheme is finally seeing the light of day. If anything, it’s a decade clear of Chinese Democracy.
Hype would be the wrong word to describe the build-up to its release but Clinging to a Scheme does bear the brunt of prolonged anticipation and it’s a trait that works against it when you come down to the bare bones of what's in stock here; this is really just another Radio Dept. record, no more, no less. It’s the same Radio Dept. that sings to you from behind some distant, hushed curtain, and it’s the same Radio Dept. that engulfs listeners in hamster-balls of dreamy shoegaze anti-gravity, begging you to float in the airy space between each note and chord. That’s The Radio Dept. now and how they’ve always been and it’s a fact that’s bound to disappoint some and just as well delight others.
But oh, how songs like “Heaven’s on Fire” more than make up for their perpetual lack of ingenuity. It’s the sort of half-lustful, half-heartbroken, tin-can synth, jangle pop glory that almost single-handedly makes this worth getting into, and goes some way in representing the best qualities The Radio Dept. have to offer, with its relentlessly catchy hooks and playful horn outro. Closer “You Stopped Making Sense” is everything the single isn’t, with its steady hi-hat tapping about as slow-burning as the band get, and the longing “I wanna come closer” breaking emotionally free of the otherwise far-removed vocals Johan Duncanson utilizes for the majority of the record.
I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture, Thurston Moore fumbles in the soundbyte leading into “Heaven’s on Fire” and it’s everything Clinging to a Scheme doesn’t want to be; disagreeable. No, The Radio Dept. are comfortable in their safety, the masters of indie pop/shoegaze fence-sitting, neither here nor there in message or meaning. It’s a stance they’ve refined with each release and Clinging to a Scheme rocks back and forth cautiously over a safety net of the softest cotton, never in any danger of losing its footing in the first place. Should they ever wish to reroute their path around the stagnancy they look all but headed for, a shake up is desperately required, but for now with Clinging to a Scheme, they’re doing just alright.
haha true. take a look at some of the comments for Strung Out's "Agents Of The Underground". There were all these people rating it 3.5-4.5 saying, "yeah, its good but it gets boring after a while." pissed me off so much...3 = good. Therefore, the album is a good album, people should look into it.
"It’s the same Radio Dept. that sings to you from behind some distant, hushed curtain, and it’s the same Radio Dept. that engulfs listeners in hamster-balls of dreamy shoegaze anti-gravity, begging you to float in the airy space between each note and chord." - This is the kind of stuff that sets the staff apart. Great review.