It was not the lyrics that got me hooked on The Radio Dept but rather their gentle, dreamy melodies. The vocals of Johan Duncanson are an integral part of the band’s sound but the words often blend into the background and set the mood rather then tell stories. The first single from their forthcoming album, Clinging to a Scheme, may just change that.
“Freddie and the Trojan Horse” is a strong statement in a time when few indie bands show any political leanings. The Radio Dept. have not been apolitical before, the band has encouraged the public to copy and download their material, but this is the first time they clearly mix politics with their music. The song can be seen as a criticism against the Swedish government and particularly the Prime Minister (Fredrik Reinfeldt) for portraying himself as a leader for the workers.
It is not only refreshing to see a band take a political standpoint but also that it can be done in a humorous way. Every time I hear the line “Oh Freddie, you should know/Can’t punish people cause your hair won’t grow” I laugh (I know, not very mature of me). It is not all fun though, the reference to Zarah Leander, a Swedish singer/actor and one of the most popular artists in Germany during World War II, ends the song on a darker tone. ?
In the second track “Closing Scene” the vocals are more submerged, almost lost. It feels like it could belong to a soundtrack of an ’80s movie, which might be what the title is referring to. “The Room, Tarzana” sounds more like a traditional Radio Dept. song and is solid but unremarkable. An unlisted fourth track brings out the noisy side of the band and ends the single on a satisfactory note.
Despite the political overtone of “Freddie and the Trojan Horse” still sounds like the Radio Dept.. The production is a bit cleaner, the drums are more prominent and the piano is a nice touch, but who knew that The Radio Dept. were musical socialists?