Though formed in 1995, Swedish dream-pop band The Radio Dept. has a sound that feels like it has been around forever. There’s a timeless, genre-transcending quality to the band’s sound that’s reflected in its hazy atmosphere and wistfully melancholic lyrics. On the new EP Never Follow Suit — a succinct collection of five songs — palpable nostalgia is evident through the album’s dreamy lo-fi production and deliberately slow-paced and leisurely rhythm.
The Radio Dept.
Never Follow Suit EP
The Radio Dept.’s influences are quite diverse, with band members citing Joy Division, Frank Sinatra and Kraftwerk among the many bands that have contributed to their sound. The merging of those disparate influences gives the band an inherently likeability — or, in other words, the band sounds relatively innocuous.
Consequently, The Radio Dept. is very easy to listen to, but by no means does it classify as an “easy-listening” band mistakable for elevator music. Still, there are no harsh sounds or disjointed riffs. Lyrics are incomprehensible but easy to guess at. Half-formed murmurs imply vague dissatisfaction and unrequited love. Trip-hop beats and shoegaze influences meld seamlessly. The album is cohesive, smooth and mellifluous.
The EP clocks in at just under 20 minutes, and two of the five songs are variations of “Never Follow Suit,” a track off their LP Clinging to a Scheme. Sure, it’s a pretty good song (fun beat, cool British person rapping, etc.) but probably undeserving of consisting of almost half of an EP — especially as it’s already featured on a previous album. The lack of song diversity in the EP makes Never Follow Suit seem like a lazy endeavor. The last track, a remix of “Never Follow Suit” entitled “Never Swallow Fruit,” is a lengthy eight minutes and 14 seconds and isn’t much different from the original. Although the EP is brimming with promise and potential, it falls short of expectations.
Never Follow Suit is perfect for providing beautiful, ambient background noise, which isn’t surprising for a band that’s already been featured on a soundtrack. On the soundtrack to the 2006 film “Marie Antoinette,” The Radio Dept. accompanies the young queen’s taciturn listlessness and the picturesque scenes of Versailles. Consequently, it’s no surprise that Never Follow Suit lacks the emotional depth that would vault the EP from being a passive backdrop to providing an active listening experience.