The Radio Dept.

Running Out of Love

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After a prolonged gestation period that included legal battles with their longtime label Labrador, an album that they started and discarded, and a change in musical direction, in 2016 the Radio Dept. issued their first album in six years. Running Out of Love showcased their immersion in various forms of dance music and their deep interest in politics, while still delivering the strong hooks and sweeping melodies their music always had. The shift to a dancier direction was first previewed on the singles that occasionally escaped, and Running takes it all the way with songs that borrow from Detroit techno (the Inner City-inspired "We Got Game"), early-'90s IDM ("Occupied"), baggy Stone Roses-styled funk ("Committed to the Cause"), and glitchy late-night electronica ("Teach Me to Forget"). They stray further afield for the tropical pop of "Sloboda Narodu," the loping "Swedish Guns," which sounds like Ace of Base turned inside out, the slow-motion machine soul of the title track, and the clipped Pet Shop Boys-ish electropop of "This Thing Was Bound to Happen." No matter the sound or style, the duo shows complete mastery and turns everything into a Radio Dept. song, with all the emotion and beauty that implies. The lush banks of synths, the nimble keyboards that lead the melodies, the rumbling basslines, and the crack drum programming mean the guitars that usually dominate a Radio Dept. album aren't missed at all. There are only a couple songs where guitars even appear. That their lyrical focus seems more focused outward, toward the injustices of the modern world and the political systems that make life a trial, doesn't make much difference, since the duo approaches the topics with a light touch and Johan Duncanson's yearning vocals can make anything sound good. While their fans who still long for the band's early shoegaze years may not find much to appreciate here, those who are drawn to the band's overriding aesthetic and knack for crafting hooks that last a long time will find Running Out of Love to be a very worthy addition to the Radio Dept. catalog. It may even be their most consistently impressive and overall most cohesive record to date.

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