The Radio Dept. Swedish Message
Published Oct 28, 2016The political climate in the U.S. might be dominating international headlines, but the Radio Dept. want the world to know that typically scandal-free Sweden has its own troubles. The band were already working on a different album when they decided to start fresh and try to expose some of their own government's miscarriages.
"It's kind of new," explains Johan Duncanson. "Sweden didn't use to look like that. Of course, we've been selling guns for a long time, which is a bad thing. But when it comes to other issues, it was a progressive country for a long time, and I think that image of Sweden really stuck. In some ways it's still true, but right now we're in regression. People just don't know about that."
The duo's fourth album, Running Out of Love, wants to inform those in the dark about Sweden's problems, which Duncanson says are specifically "racism, modern fascism and capitalism."
"It's definitely a political record," says Martin Carlberg. "The lyrics always come after we're done making the music, and because of the political climate now, it's hard to write about anything else. It's affecting everything we do now — both professionally and personally."
The Radio Dept. have never shied away from tackling important issues in their music (see previous singles "Freddie and the Trojan Horse" and "Death to Fascism"), but Running Out of Love is their first full-length to make a cohesive political statement. But unlike a lot of artists that stress the emphasis on message before music, the Radio Dept. aren't trying to shove anything down the listener's throat.
"I don't mind people just listening to the music," says Duncanson. "I've said this before, but we will always be a pop group first. At the same time, it's nice if people pay attention to the lyrics as well. I have so many favourite songs myself where I don't know what they're singing about, so it would be rude of me to expect people to listen that closely."
Some fans might not pick up on the political skew of the songs, or care to, but one thing that is clear about Running Out of Love is how the band have continued to realign their sound. The Radio Dept. have always integrated a range of influences (shoegaze, dub, Balearic), but this album has a definitive club feel to it. Duncanson sees it — much like the political theme — as yet another way in which he and Carlberg refuse to adhere any plan in order to stay inspired.
"I listen to a lot of classic house music and early techno, but also contemporary dance music like Factory Floor," he says. "We like to change things around every once in a while, and try out new things in genres where we don't really know the language. It's fun to reinvent yourself in a way, because it's still you but slightly different. It's nice to feel new."