20 Watts


20 Watts Reviews The Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme by jluposello
April 20, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

20 Watts Reviews The Radio Dept.'s Clinging To A Scheme

PREVIEW: VISIT The Radio Dept.’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Since their beginnings in 1995, The Radio Dept. have been known for being slow to produce new albums. With their fifteen-year-old discography consisting of a mere three full length releases, the Swedish shoegazers could be described as patient, if nothing else

Clinging to a Scheme is a model example of over-perfection and its consequences. The album exists largely as an effort both over-thought and over-ambitious. This impacts the record negatively, giving it a sound that is neither inventive nor genre-challenging.

That’s not to say all listeners will be alienated by the album’s aspect. The tracks on aren’t necessarily bad, but there aren’t any truly outstanding moments on the record that come to mind when thinking of the work as a collective whole. Tracks such as the opener, “Domestic Scene”, come and go quietly, following a dynamic-shy formula that seems to be all too tried-and-tested in today’s indie scene.

Shorter efforts such as “Four Months in the Shade”  are passable as musical interludes, but The Radio Dept. comes up noticeably short even in that sense. Its lack of consistency and musical maturation causes it to feel more like a half-hearted pit-stop than a thoughtfully-placed interlude.

Tracks like “David” allude to a faint possibility of original sonic direction. The issue is that The Radio Dept. approaches these detours through the unexpected only to shy away on them, preferring the main road of conventionality –  densely textured but blandly orchestrated in form.

As the album draws to a close on “You Stopped Making Sense”, the record feels to have gone almost nowhere in its 35-minute duration. While the album may be enough for glazy-eyed, shoegazing audiences, it’s hardly enough to satiate the appetite of  even a casually demanding listener – especially one conscious of the extensive wait it took to produce the album. Sadly, “Clinging to a Scheme,” fulfills its title in the most disappointingly literal way possible, fixated on the same sonic tropes without considering that some newer scheme might be better worth clinging to.

-John Luposello

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