RUNNING OUT OF LOVE by The Radio Dept.
Genre: Dream Pop
Favorite Tracks: “We Got Game,” “This Thing Was Bound To Happen,” “Committed To the Cause”
RUNNING OUT OF LOVE is a dreamy and fluid musical voyage consisting of 10 tracks from the politically outspoken Swedish pop group The Radio Dept. Backed by dance and pop inspired instrumental tracks, the album addresses many political and social issues facing Sweden, with those who listen pointing to consistent dystopian themes throughout. Lyrically, The Radio Dept. stresses their discontent with the system in which they live, while the musical tones throughout the album teem with more surreal, dream-like ambience and nostalgia. RUNNING OUT OF LOVE is a stylized album, but whether or not it will stand the test of time in a post-STRANGER THINGS, synth-based dream pop world is another question.
RUNNING OUT OF LOVE has several things going for it. For one, it has the sense of warmth and nostalgia that unearthly synth melodies provide. Anchored by its simplicity and fluidity. The album flows quite seamlessly from one moment to the next, and is pleasant to listen to throughout, with moments that range from beautiful to haunting, such as the electronic flute melody that enters to back “This Thing Was Bound To Happen,” creating a wave of elegance and emotion that stands out on the album. The downfall of the album is that it calls for comparisons to similar works that production wise, surpass this project, such as the music of S U R V I V E, which is also composed of synth based melodies that haunt and linger rather than uplift.
Some tracks, such as “We Got Game” are colorful and bright, while others take on a darker tone. “Thieves of State” sounds most like the haunting ‘80s-inspired soundtrack, and serves as a bit of an interlude. The synthesizer is a very versatile instrument, and The Radio Dept. utilizes it in creative ways — but unfortunately, the uninteresting drums detract from much of the feeling the synth creates. “Occupied” is an example of a track that is hurt by its simplicity, because while it feels like a full song, there is nothing particularly memorable nor interesting about it, feeling more like filler than substance. Multiple songs over the course of the album have a similar feel, which is disappointing, considering some of the great moments that can be found in the noise.
The biggest downfall of RUNNING OUT is that it doesn’t reach its full potential. Each track is very simple, and though this is no fault in itself, sometimes the synth playing can feel uninspired. Tracks like “Swedish Guns” begin with strong, interesting concepts, but don’t build up to deliver something as powerful as they could. The album doesn’t feel entirely unique, and warrants underhanded comparisons to other electronic releases that seem to have heavy influence, such as the vocal style of Gorillaz. Regardless, it seems a bit unfair to criticize an album for something it doesn’t do, and the vocals, despite their familiarity, are certainly a strength. But, in the case of RUNNING OUT OF LOVE, the lack of instantly distinguishable characteristics hurts due to the flood of electronic music calling for our attention.
Although there is nothing resounding about RUNNING OUT OF LOVE, it is enjoyable. There is something to be appreciated about its solid framework and coherency, despite its relative flatness. It may be flat, but it can’t be said that it’s necessarily bad, and there are standout moments, such as the smooth guitar of “Committed To the Cause,” which goes on to lead into a beautiful moment a few minutes in, in which the guitar is joined by a high pitched wind instrument that sounds mystical and dreamy. I only feel disappointed that more tracks don’t stack up with the few that really do work.
RUNNING OUT OF LOVE is a solid release by The Radio Dept, but it unfortunately doesn’t consistently deliver on a high level. There are a few singles that truly do resonate with originality, but most of the album simply sounds too generic to be called memorable. If you’re looking for a fix of dreamy synthpop, absolutely give it a listen, but if you’re not seeking this type of music, there aren’t any reasons to listen to the album apart from its value as a piece of Swedish political commentary. While RUNNING OUT OF LOVE isn’t bad, it just isn’t as moving as I feel it aspires to be, and misses often. The result is something that doesn’t hurt to listen to, but doesn’t feel all too special either. Give a few tracks a listen, and if it doesn’t sing to you, move on.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend