March 26, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 37°F


Experimental sonic tones amplify through decade

The Swedish masterminds behind The Radio Dept. may not be the best known, but they are certainly one of the most original and refreshing acts to experiment with sonic structures of the past decade. The group recently released “Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010,” a two-disc compilation of its studio singles.

As a dream pop and shoegaze outfit, The Radio Dept. offers signature features such as lo-fi, buzzed-up guitars and bleary-eyed vocals. The band works with digital drum loops that sport crashing cymbals and steady drum hits, which push the tracks forward but don’t overpower the delicate vocals of lead Johan Duncanson.

Some may have heard of The Radio Dept. but just don’t realize it. Several songs in this compilation, including “Pulling Our Weight,” were featured in the Kirsten Dunst biopic “Marie Antoinette.” “Pulling Our Weight” starts up with light and accentuated drum beats accompanied by Duncanson’s hushed and airy vocals. The fuzzy quality of the guitars and synthesizers give the song an authentic old-time record feel.

The group addresses the problems of social status and cultural norms in the single “We Made the Team.” Synthesized beats and a grooving bass line please the ear as Duncanson takes to his traditional glazy vocals. He stresses the importance of “making the team” as he reasons, “As long as we get laid and paid.”

“Passive Aggressive” not only serves as an excellent crash course in Radio Dept. 101 for listeners new to the band, but it also satisfies the hardened fan’s hunger for its familiar drowsy beats. With 28 songs, the compilation will hold over listeners until the group returns with its next studio album.

3 out of 4 stars