Swedish dream pop band The Radio Dept. like to take their time between albums. The band released their fourth full-length, Running Out of Love, last October, their first since 2010’s Clinging to a Scheme. The band refers to the album as “dystopian” in nature, being “about the impatience that turns into anger, hate and ultimately withdrawal and apathy when love for the world and our existence begins to falter.” These sentiments may have only grown more fitting in the time since the record was recorded. The new songs take the band further into the synthpop direction than they have ever ventured before, mostly leaving behind the guitars that were previously a staple of the band’s sound. Still present, however, are singer Johan Duncanson’s hushed, understated vocals.
It’s also been a while since the band last came to the US – their last show in DC was at the Black Cat in 2011. They returned to the venue on Wednesday night, and though the band has been gone for quite some time, it was clear from the audience’s enthusiasm that they have not been forgotten.
The band opened the show with “Sloboda Narodu,” also the opening track off of Running Out of Love. A full half of the band’s 14-song set was drawn from the new album, including “Committed to the Cause,” “We Got Game,” “Swedish Guns,” and “Teach Me to Forget.” In between, they went back and revisited earlier releases with “David,” “Heaven’s On Fire,” and “Never Follow Suit” from Clinging to a Scheme, “The Worst Taste in Music” from 2006’s Pet Grief, and “Bus” from 2003’s Lesser Matters. After the main set, the two core members Duncanson and Martin Carlberg returned to the stage for a single-song encore, playing a stripped down, guitar-based version of “1995,” also from Lesser Matters.
Germans, the Brooklyn-based project of singer Julia Kwamya, opened the show.