Swedish indie rock four piece, The Radio Dept. released their debut record in 2004. The group combine the vocal styles and catchy hooks of bands like The Strokes and Kings Of Leon with the atmospherics and keyboard sounds of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Arcade Fire, the sound of the group is basically delicate pop song writing with backgrounds of distorted white noise. Despite the background white noise, the songs of this album are pretty and sugary pop songs that are easy to enjoy. A mix of shoegaze, dream pop and lo-fi, this album would have been welcome in the early 90s alongside albums such as My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless", Slowdive's "Souvlaki" and Jesus and Mary Chain's "Psycocandy".
The debut album from this Swedish four-piece is a fine one indeed. The album begins with a short atmospheric intro called "Too Soon". After that, it's straight into the hardest rocking song of the album, "Where The Damage Isn't Already Done" (also the album's first single). This song is the most straight forward, with an infectious guitar riff and a driving drum beat. The album then slides into some shoegaze noisy songs that are much slower and quite hypnotic. One of the album's stronger points is the more upbeat "1995" that sounds more like The Strokes in love than anything else. Other highlights are all the way throughout the album and there isn't one song not to like.
One of the album's most interesting aspects is it's production. The production often masks the lyrics (along with the vocal styles on display) which is a shame because the album's lyrics are one of the best parts. It will take the listener a few listens to understand what is being said. Although this is one negative aspect of the production (and vocal styles), it's probable that the album would not be as strong without the production and singing. The fact that you can't understand the mumbled lyrics adds to the sound of the album. It's almost like the way The Strokes sing, but it has it's own charm to it. To those inexperienced with shoe gaze music, the production will sound dirty and unfinished but this is all part of the experience of the album and without this style of production, the album would almost certainly not be as strong.
Musically, the most interesting part of this album is the rhythm section and the vocals. The hushed vocals are equal parts My Bloody Valentine, The Strokes and Coldplay while the drumming features some nice "for the track" playing with interesting rhythms. The guitars are often creating walls of sound with occasional riffing while the keyboards are usually just making background walls with occasional riffs. The bass parts are the most interesting with some nice melodies cutting through the mix. This band, however are vocal based with all songs bar one ("Strange Things Will Happen") being sung by male vocals. The one song that features female vocals is an excellent track that would be right at home on a children's show such as "Sesame Street". Everything in the mix revolves around the vocals and they can be easily heard above all of the other instruments, unlike some shoegaze bands such as My Bloody Valentine.
It's easy to tell from the band's album cover to their first video that this is a band who know that their sound is much more important than their image. This album hints at the band's potential and is one of the best releases of the year. It's an easy album to listen to and a hard one not to enjoy.
- Pretty sugary melodies
- Infinitely accessible
- An interesting mix of styles gives the band their own sound
- Sometimes a bit samey
- Instrumental tracks are a bit boring
- Production may not appeal to everyone
Where The Damage Isn't Already Done
Strange Things Will Happen
Reccomended For Fans Of:
Jesus and Mary Chain
My Bloody Valentine
Early Primal Scream