An old friend of mine mentioned the band The Radio Dept. to me back in late 2006, and the name has been sitting in the deep recesses of my mind ever since. Earlier this month I finally sat down and gave a listen to their two full-length albums.
Needless to say, I was impressed.
Reading the various reviews, it seemed clear that everyone thought their first album, Lesser Matters, was the best. However, I listened to Pet Grief first and enjoyed it. My one complaint is that it all kinda runs together and all the songs sound the same.
Upon listening to Lesser Matters, I could see why it was so highly regarded. It’s just got so much more going on and has a more well-rounded sound.
Lesser Matters is a lot more guitar-centric and filled with fuzzy reverb, while on Pet Grief, it’s the drum machine that stands out. That’s due to a major change in the band’s personnel, including the departure of the drummer and the bass guitarist.
Speaking of those aforementioned reviews, there were a lot of comparisons to My Bloody Valentine, including one Amazon customer who said Pet Grief was “Magnetic Fields meets My Bloody Valentine.”
From the official Amazon review …
Pet Grief is the best songs Pet Shop Boys never wrote and the album you’d hoped My Bloody Valentine did after Loveless. The key to what makes it so special, what makes it all sound so much like The Radio Dept., might be the ever present melancholy that permeates everything they write.
Having never really listened to My Bloody Valentine much before, I can neither confirm nor deny those claims. But one band they do remind me of is The Stone Roses.
My brother, whose musical taste is highly regarded, had this to say …
They are like Postal Service with a New Order sensibility with a dash of Pet Shop Boys. … I totally here (sic) New Order infuence on Lesser Matters. I do not hear the PSB on Lesser Matters. I think it would be criminal not to compare them to the Postal Service.
So, there ya go.
As for the band itself, stability isn’t necessarily one of its strengths. They’ve had notable turnover, which, as mentioned before, had a clear effect on their sound.
Their two albums came out in 2003 and 2006, and they’ve realeased nine EPs dating back to 2002. According to their unofficial website, The Radio Dept. are putting out another full-length disc, Clinging To a Scheme, this March. That website also appears to be loaded with a bunch of available downloads.
Here’s a track from each of their LPs. I think the sonic shift should be rather noticeable.