Swede Dreams

Ravishing pop debut from Malmo four-piece

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In the early ’90s, My Bloody Valentine’s influence was everywhere, suggesting a new dawn for guitar pop. But a growing attachment to rock classicism derailed many a nascent shoegazing band. The Radio Dept. recall that giddy moment before sounding like the Stones was considered revelatory. Only these Swedes re-tweak the formula, sounding, if anything, better than Ride, Slowdive, Lush, Boo Radleys et al. Besides FX-driven dream pop, The Radio Dept. are also in reach of New Order and their brutally ascending rushes. The frazzled velocity of “Why Won’t You Talk About It?”, “Against The Tide”and “Ewan”are powered by some kind of internal momentum rather than lumpen muscle.

Glistening opener “Too Soon”and the lovely “Slottet, #2″make cheap, whirring Casios sound quite beautiful. What’s remarkable is that this album was recorded on a portable home studio. Yet the condensed hiss of a C90 only complements their bleached-out sound. It’s doubtful whether the mournful drone of, say, “Keen On Boys”and Johan Duncanson’s wan vocals would have been so effective with the clinical precision of digital equipment.

The Radio Dept. aren’t just interested in constructing sonic Taj Mahals. Their fuzzy contours perfectly express lovesickness and heartache. “It’s Been Eight Years”and “1995”see Duncanson re-experiencing the ecstatic anguish of a failed relationship, almost relishing the pain of loss. Best is the closing “Lost And Found”. With its lump-in-the-throat refrain of “I’ll see you someday”, the neon-lit melancholia of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation is effectively distilled into four woozy minutes. A distant cousin, in fact, of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s prettier, tender moments.


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