The Radio Dept. – Clinging to a Scheme

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Sweden’s The Radio Dept. have had a rough go of things.  They’ve lost a few members in their history as a band, taken a hiatus and barely gotten enough press to generate mass interest.  However, with the backing of Labrador Records, the group are finally releasing their third album, Clinging to a Scheme; this will be the record that should solidify the band as a mainstay across the globe.

When you get the album, you should definitely listen to opening track “Domestic Scene,” as it does serve to affect the entire listening experience, if you intend to listen end to end (as you should!). Other than that, it’s just atmospheric noise, which has its point, but isn’t necessary on repeat listens.

After that, you can’t really skip a single track on this album. “Heaven’s on Fire,” the second single, opens the real depth of the album with a slow and steady beat, as guitars strum along.  There’s sort of a coat of noise lurking in the background here, as there is in much of the album, which might throw the group into a dream-pop genre; it washes over the song as waves would wash upon the shores.  “This Time Around” uses more of a coating of noise, like a second coat of paint, while the rest of the tune is draped in synthesized beats, but it’s the distant vocals that extract every emotion from you as you listen.

Don’t be fooled by two minutes of ambient noise on “Never Follow Suit.” There’s a gem of a song lying at the end filled with such beauty and simplicity that you can’t turn it off when the lyrics cease.  And this appears to be the beautiful part of the album, not that it all isn’t so, but the intricate picking of guitars accompanied by piano on “A Token of Gratitude” is absolutely magnificent; the additional vocals, though sparse, sound as if they’re recorded on an old answering machine, making the listening experience all the more intimate.  But just as it things go pretty, they amp it up a bit.  The one-two punch of “The Video Dept.” and “Memory Loss” show that The Radio Dept aren’t intent on just letting you sleep your afternoon away.  These two tracks offer a more uplifting experience, yet they still fit snuggly into Clinging to a Scheme as a whole.

Eventually you come to the holy grail that is “David.”  Its been playing in my player for months, and while it has a resemblance to current groups like The Big Pink, the hooks here are caught in the crosshairs between pop and soft atmospheric touches.  You won’t find many songs much more perfect than this one this year, that I can promise. All this leads us to the ending “You Stopped Making Sense.”  Here you’ll find the band at their most accessible, almost coming off like Robert Pollard in a dream state.  It ends so gloriously, and goes by so quickly that you have to go back to track 2 immediately.  That’s just one of the great things that makes listening to Clinging to a Scheme so incredible; you just can’t seem to get enough, nor would you want to because The Radio Dept. is currently on a splendid roll.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Radio-Dept-David.mp3]

Download: The Radio Dept – David [MP3]

4/8 The Big Pink @ The Parish

For those who had recently been following the rise of The Big Pink, Thursday night’s show at The Parish was much anticipated.  As fans of the band’s A Brief History of Love, we were determined to witness the show in order to make a definitive statement on just how much we love the band.  Opening for the evening was A Place to Bury Strangers, who initially seemed like an odd pairing.  Follow the jump for full review.
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