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The Radio Dept. Running Out Of Love Labrador

Thirteen years since their utterly brilliant debut Lesser Matters, and The Radio Dept. have made a move towards more polished production with their fourth full length. Running Out Of Love sees more commercially minded electronica come to the fore, with very little emphasis on guitar work. This is no bad thing, but the combination of pulsing beats and a robotic, detached vocal delivery – which often sounds as though the band have hired HAL 9000 to front them – lacks some of the warmth of their earlier releases.

But it lacks warmth for good reason. Here The Radio Dept. confront the political, intellectual and moral changes and regression that they deem to be taking place in their native Sweden; things that are becoming common across the western world. Swedish Guns is about their homeland’s arms trade, whilst We Got Game reflects the state’s upholding and protecting of reactionary traditions and figures. The track is as club-ready as you’re likely to hear the band, with stabbing keys, fluttering fills and radio friendly melodies feeling a bit more ‘now’ than you’d expect from these perennial outsiders. Committed To The Cause, meanwhile, could’ve been taken from Foxbase Alpha in its propulsive house, though it is lacking the lift and optimism often found in Saint Etienne’s vocal performances. This Thing Was Bound To Happen allows them to nail the sound that they strive for on the record: an icier beat, with a more insistent melody, structure and bass line.

Those optimistic about a return to The Radio Dept.’s shoegazing and dreampop days are in for a shock here. This is a ‘big’ record from a band who have found their success in understatement, and despite their laudable aims, it doesn’t quite suit them.