The Radio Dept. Doesn’t Run Out of Anything
The Radio Dept.’s previous release, Clinging To A Scheme, came out six years ago. Still, the album sounds as fresh today as it did in 2010. Clinging To A Scheme certainly set the bar high for any follow up the Swedish band might put out. Out last Friday, The Radio Dept.’s much anticipated new record, Running Out of Love, not only hits the mark but in many ways surpasses what the band has done in the past.
Starting with the glacially paced textual build and swift percussion of “Sloboda Narodu,” Running Out of Love gives a nod to the band’s previous work before ebbing into the album’s single, “Swedish Guns.” Much like the majority of the album, “Swedish Guns” burns with a more electronic feel than the band’s previous work (weaving together hints of M83, Depeche Mode, and Mogwai). But more than the airy atmospherics and plumbingly bass-heavy percussion that make the instrumentals, “Swedish Guns” has a vocal groove to it that is impossible to deny.
This is one point of polish The Radio Dept. has improved. This isn’t to say that the band had weak vocal melodies in the past. On the contrary, it seems the band has taken their penchant for penning excellent and subtle hooks and concentrated it. Every song on Running Out of Love hosts a feast of melodic hooks. Like a flat page folding into a swan, Running Out of Love‘s vocal patterns take what The Radio Dept. does best and shortcuts the gaps between the juiciest examples.
But as much as The Radio Dept. concentrated their vocals, the band has worked on their song structure. If anything can be said about Clinging to a Scheme, it’s that the album refused to stay mired to the same rigid structures. Likewise, Running Out of Love keeps its patterns fresh. A good example of this occurs just past the album’s midpoint. “This Thing Was Bound to Happen” keeps the aforementioned vocal virtuosity while allowing the band’s instrumentals to shine. Synthy trumpets lead the amorphous textures while the guitars flit between bass and tenor registers to create a song as complex as any without sacrificing a quark of catchiness.
While The Radio Dept. has done much to alter and improve upon what they have released in the past, Running Out of Love still bears a high resemblance to the band’s past work. Many of the sounds that initially drew us to the band are featured, as is their trademark smoothness. Running Out of Love has the ability to wash melodies together without lulling its listener to sleep.
Perhaps this is due to the band knowing exactly the right amount of drone and rhythm to mix together, when to prune a melody and when to let it ride, and how to layer a song with a danceable undercurrent. And no where is this more apparent than the album’s titular track. Rhythmic and haunting, “Running Out of Love” is lush and maximal without losing the subtle qualities that define the best examples of The Radio Dept.’s music. The instrumental track is, like the album as a whole, near perfect.