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Thursday, April 15th, 2010

A Token Of Gratitude

Review of The Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme

Photo By Max WeilandMax WeilandFor so long has Clinging To A Scheme, the third album from Sweden’s The Radio Dept, been promised and not delivered that it’s become something of a myth – if someone were to tell me that when it was finally to be released unto the world that it would be delivered by Axl Rose and Kevin Shields riding unicorns, I’d probably believe it.

But it finally arrives in stores next week, and fans who’ve been waiting for upwards of four years for another Radio Dept record will find that it… is another Radio Dept record. The trio haven’t used the time away to reinvent themselves or their sound, but with only two records to their names over twelve years of existence, you can hardly accuse them of having fallen into a holding pattern or phoning it in. They’ve simply adhering to the template laid out in their two masterpieces so far, Lesser Matters and Pet Grief, and written (and discarded and rewritten) songs until coming up with a collection they were happy with, and this is how long its taken. While it’s true that wrapping pop songs built on strings and electronics in fuzzy blankets of sound isn’t unique in and of itself, very few have managed to strike as perfect a balance between shimmer and static as The Radio Dept, and that’s even before you factor in their distinctly Scandinavian melancholy.

Within the boundaries of what makes a Radio Dept album, however, there are some adjustments from past works. Sonically, it largely retains the cleanliness of Pet Grief but some of the rough edges of Lesser Matters has crept back into the mix – welcomely, I might add – creating a blended texture that’s quantitatively different from but more quintessentially characteristic than anything they’ve done before. The mood of Clinging is also lighter, with a handful of genuinely bouncy numbers that would probably have felt out of place on the beautifully downbeat Pet Grief, but overall it moves at the pace of a thoughtful stroll and the vibe is that of someone trying their best to have a good time and be happy and not really succeeding. And it’s that contrast and combination of smiling whilst frowning that’s the source of much of The Radio Dept’s magic, a magic which is present in abundance on Clinging To A Scheme. Yes, it sounds just like The Radio Dept, but that’s all we ever asked for.

Penny Black talks to frontman Johan Duncanson about the long road to the record and what lies ahead for the band.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “Never Follow Suit”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “Heaven’s On Fire”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “David”

The Mary Onettes are releasing a new 7″ for Record Store Day and for those who won’t be able to get their hands on a copy, they’re giving away the a-side for free.

MP3: The Mary Onettes – “The Night Before The Funeral”

Interview interviews jj.

Jens Lekman recalls the state of Swedish indie in the ’90s to The Jakarta Post.

The Vancouver Sun, Bay Area Reporter and The AV Club have conversations with Jonsi, while Grapevine talks to him and collaborator Nico Muhly. Jonsi plays the Sound Academy on April 30 and May 1.

The Telegraph and Houston Chronicle talk to Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. They’re at the Opera House on May 4.

LCD Soundsystem have put up a stream of their new record This Is Happening, weeks ahead of its May 18 release date. They will be at the Kool Haus on May 25.

Stream: LCD Soundsystem / This Is Happening

The Toronto Star and CNN chat with Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss of Quasi. They’ll be at The Horseshoe on Sunday night, April 18.

The jokers at MBV Music have posted the cover art to the new Pernice Brothers record, which is coming out on June 15 with the cheery title of Goodbye Killer.

Spin talks to Stephen Malkmus on how the Pavement reunion came to be while North County Times chats with rhythm section Bob Nastanovich and Mark Ibold. Said reunion rolls into the Toronto Islands on June 19.

Beach House are giving away one of the tracks on their Record Store Day 12″ EP. Get it – if you’re early and lucky – this Saturday. They’re also playing the Toronto Islands on June 19.

MP3: Beach House – “Zebra” (UK Edit)

Filler has an interview and fashion spread with Holly Miranda. She plays the El Mocambo on May 20.

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: General

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