4/26/17 – The Radio Dept. “Clinging To A Scheme” (2010)

Dream Pop isn’t my go to genre, but Clinging to a Scheme is my go to Dream Pop album. Probably the Swedish band’s most famous album, it is rich with smooth synths and complimented perfectly with equally smooth vocals provided by Johan Duncansson. Besides the crisp and distant drums, nearly everything on this album is fuzzed out until there are no harsh edges. It’s not overly reliant on the chorus either, a lot of the lyrics are pretty varied. I think this can be a shining example of what Indie Pop is and can be.

“People see rock and roll as, as youth culture, and when youth culture becomes monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do? Do you, do you have any idea?
I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture.”

Heaven’s On Fire feels like the real album intro, and Domestic Scene was just the set up. That above quote is said by Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, so it’s obvious where they got a lot of their inspiration from. This track is smooth as butter, everything just lining up perfectly, my favorite being the bass line that slides in and out during the bridges. Never Follow Suit is an unexpected Dub track that works surprisingly well with their sound. It’s also got a sample from the documentary Style Wars (1983), and it blew my mind when I watched it after listening to Clinging to a Scheme for so many years.

A Token Of Gratitude opens with some glorious guitars, and although the lyrics are simple, they are succinct enough for this to be one of my favorite songs on the album. The Video Dept. is their version of Shoegaze and again they step into another genre effortlessly. I especially love how loud this song is, and how they still add guitars and basses to the track as it goes on untill the vocals are nearly drowned out. Memory Loss is an anxious and paranoid confession of love, with some stellar production that let the guitar weave in and out of focus to match the lyrics. David is a song about unrequited love, but this is aimed at a gay man, David, who hasn’t figured out his sexuality. Sharing his same name, this is always an amusing song to me.

Before the album ends, there is Four Months In The Shade, an instrumental track that gets even louder than The Video Dept., bordering on noise at some points. Considering the rest of the album, it’s a shockingly violent song but is fascinating in it’s own right. It opens it up for You Stopped Making Sense, a fantastic closer about the narrator losing his girlfriend to her religious convictions. It really takes it’s time and has a wonderful guitar solo halfway in that always makes my mind wander (in a good way). Like I said, this is a great example of Indie Pop and Dream Pop, and I can see the influence this has in more recent releases. If you’re a fan of either genre, pick this up. And if you were curious, the cover is a screen grab of a documentary about US soldiers in Vietnam smoking pot in the barrels of their rifles.

 

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