The Radio Dept. The Radio Dept.Never Follow Suit EP
LABRADOR (LAB1321, 12” + digital)
“Clinging To A Scheme” was the fabulous sequel to “Pet Grief”, but the wait has been too long. It looks like the otherwise lazy The Radio Dept., encouraged by the great reception of their third album, have finally picked up pace in 2010. Visibly very comfortable on their new album, we’ve seen them more relaxed than ever on stage. In the wake of all that, they have now decided to go all Saint Etienne on “Clinging To A Scheme” with a new release, this well-meant but rather disappointing sequel. “Never Follow Suit EP” is a bit like they went limp. Johan Duncanson’s beautiful voice, the same that told me about his fanaticism for the band of Sarah Cracknell, Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley after their recent gig in Barcelona, isn’t employed as much as it could have been. Unlike any so-so B-side by Saint Etienne, The Radio Dept. can’t seem to elevate their songs more than a few centimetres from the ground. In fact, it sounds like they’re having trouble writing songs, great songs, and just leave them in the rough.
I, at least, expected a marvellous EP, like the one Owen Pallett released to round off “Heartland”. But here, contrary to the guitar layers they rode on “Lesser Matters” (2003), they play what sound like discarded tracks from the album. And they decided to do so more electronically than ever. There are only three new songs. The delicate opening with “The One” seems an intro to “Never Follow Suit”, which it fades in. And right after that, “Stay Off Route” serves as the stereotypical nebulous transition, two minutes of fog in the vein of Boards of Canada –not very original– that could have (why not?) ended up as something close to Delorean on “Subiza”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go further, shadowed immediately by “On Your Side”, a good tune that, nevertheless, isn’t better than any track on the album. And to top it all off, the obligatory dub remix of the title track by their northern colleagues Pistol Disco sounds lethargic and boring. It’s re-baptised “Never Swallow Fruit”, not without humour if you take into account the glucose injection the track needs to lift the spirit that consumes it. All in all, not much. Hardly eight minutes of new music from our beloved Swedes, during which there’s little reason to stay and every reason to return to the album format. Cristian Rodríguez