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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 07
The Radio Dept. mesmerizing, dreamy '80s pop
Arts & Entertainment
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The Radio Dept. mesmerizing, dreamy '80s pop

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The Radio Dept.
February 12
The Crocodile


Much like their 15-year career, The Radio Dept. was both captivating and frustrating on Saturday night at The Crocodile. The Swedish trio, featuring only one member from its original lineup, played barely over an hour. The outpouring was beautiful, dreamy pop - a throwback to '80s melodic new wave - though they appeared stiff and lifeless throughout the show.

Opening marvelously with the dreary 'Freddie and the Trojan Horse,' there was an immediate desire to love everything about this concert. This was reaffirmed a few songs later when the trio performed the snappier number 'David' - Johan Duncanson's vocals floated like marshmallows over a deep, pulsating bass and tinkering keyboards - and it was again bliss when The Radio Dept. got to 'The Worst Taste in Music.'

Duncanson acknowleged the band's previous Seattle stop at Chop Suey, and their enthusiasm to return here. 'Good city, good to be back,' he said to the audience - although, like the performance itself, the words slipped out of his mouth with little emotion. I'm sure he meant it, but you couldn't shake any excitement from him or the other two, Martin Larsson and Daniel Tjader.

Their appearance was another slight disappointment. The Radio Dept.'s niche is ambient, light pop and yet they looked like they were part of a pitiful grunge act in flannel shirts, un-fitted trousers and disheveled hair - they were boring to the eye, with no sign of effort.

The music spoke for itself, however. 'I Just Wanted You to Feel the Same' was whispery and shimmery, 'Never Follow Suit' had me basking in sunshine with my eyes closed, and 'Domestic Scene' was airy and soft. Two splendid tunes worth crossing your fingers for, 'Tell' and 'Deliverance,' were both left off the set list, which included a one-song encore.

So, is it worth seeing The Radio Dept. in concert? Yes, and expect to be swooned by that feathery, melancholy sound. But prepare yourself for some restraint; these guys never quite come out of their shell, making you wonder how much better they'd be if they gave it a shot.

The Radio Dept. has been added to the Sasquatch Festival lineup in May, and you can catch them outdoors or wait to see them in a recommended intimate setting.

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