May 13, 2010

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Radio Dept, Clinging To A Scheme
Labrador Records, April 20

The third album in seven years for these Swedish dream-poppers separates them further from the pack by continuing to emphasize their varied influences, none of which will be foreign to their thrift-shop-hipster fan-base – vocals leaning toward Nick Drake, French-café overtones as pioneered by Saint Etienne – but taken as a whole it’s somewhat of a departure from the norm. A history with Matador Records and their Swedish-ness itself dictates we must take them seriously, and the ’60s-pop that wafts throughout is nice and all, but if this ever goes past soundtracking a VW commercial aimed directly at smart ‘n’ skinny 20somethings it’d surprise me. The stuff that sticks in the head after a first listen is, unfortunately, their less enticing stuff, like the intentionally badly mixed “Memory Loss,” and this takes away from the better songs, such as the quietly jubilant ’60s-twee-electro drone of “Heaven’s on Fire.” There’s a way to dislike this band, is what I’m getting at; they’re not the mass production line of irresistible hookage you’d expect for a band that takes so long between albums. B- Eric W. Saeger