Running Out Of Love’s direction isn’t apparent at first, with deceptive opening track Slobada Naru based around upbeat timpani taps and chiming guitars. Once Swedish Guns arrives with its urgent strings and gunshots, however, it’s clear that the record is of a more pessimistic character than 2010’s Clinging to A Scheme, with Johan Duncanson’s customarily uniform vocals lamenting Sweden’s arms industry, selective police brutality, and their long-running court case.
With so many axes to grind, Running Out Of Love becomes a riveting and richly European record, hinting at Kraftwerk’s icy Computer Love synths on We Got Game, Idioteque’s IDM beat on the haunting seven-minute centrepiece Occupied, and Massive Attack on the looping bass of Committed to the Cause. Even songs that feel more familiar, such as the bouncy Bound to Happen or the drippy adult contemporary of Can’t Be Guilty, are tinged with an unusual resignation. Angry, acquiescent and apathetic all at once, Running Out Of Love is an ideal album for our anxious times.
Shared early last year, “Occupied” is the album’s political and creative center. Constructed over a thumping beat and drone, this is The Radio Dept. at their most thematically merciless: over a seven-minute track, Johan Duncanson speaks of grief, capitalism and power.
Yet, the discourse never feels alienating. That’s because Running Out of Love also has its human side (its latter half, to be more precise). “Can’t Be Guilty” is the only true pop song to be found in the album — something so quiet and dreamlike that could have been found in their previous works.
What is certainly undeniable is that Running Out of Love showcases a band that has been frustrated for too long. Perhaps we could have have witnessed something like that in Clinging to a Scheme’s criticism of the bourgeois, yet that was a scattered view of the world. This is a darker, more direct take from a band that sees in pop music a place to distill their ideas.
Which brings me back to that initial thought: The Radio Dept. have always relied on dreamy soundscapes in order to get their message across. Now they speak of drinking Cuba Cola (“This Thing Was Bound to Happen”, one of the album’s finest moments). Some could hear the sound of a band losing all their meaning, which is understandable. The Radio Dept. stopped perfecting the music that involves abstract concepts like youth and innocence. They started taking action.
(Pretty Much Amazing)
The Radio Dept. in Deutschland:
02.02.17 Köln, Gebäude 9
03.02.17 Berlin, Berghain