WireImage | Redferns Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been…
- Posted on Dec 1st 2010 12:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
"We're having technical difficulties," Duncanson said, waiting patiently as the Radio Dept.'s first US show in more than a year ground to a halt. The sound guys eventually sorted things out, and although they neglected to turn up Duncanson's vocals, which had been virtually inaudible from the start, the group picked up right where it had left off.
"OK, so this is the encore," Duncanson said, just before making a more successful pass through 'I Want You to Feel the Same,' a yearning 2006 pop ballad that ought to have come along two decades earlier, so that John Hughes might have included it on his 'Breakfast Club' soundtrack.
The Radio Dept. went on to play five more songs, and while there was, in fact, no encore, there didn't need to be. By the end of their 40-minute set, Duncanson, keyboardist Martin Carlberg and second guitarist Daniel Tjäder had already revisited three decades of European indie rock, referencing -- and at times combining -- the defiant fuzz of the Jesus and Mary Chain, jangle of the Smiths, dance beats of the Stone Roses, noisiness of My Bloody Valentine, halcyon droning of Cocteau Twins and preciousness of Belle and Sebastian.
There was even some punk-rock bluster, via 'Freddie and the Trojan Horse.' "This next one's about the Swedish government," Duncanson said of that tune. "F--- 'em."
'Freddie' is no hardcore song -- it features an insistent electric-piano riff and drums cribbed from either David Bowie's 'Modern Love' or A-ha's 'Take on Me' -- but it proved Duncanson willing to use his airy croon in service of some old-fashioned rabblerousing.
Better still was 'Never Follow Suit,' a standout track on the Radio Dept.'s excellent third album, 'Clinging to a Scheme,' released earlier this year. With its skanking reggae keyboard chords -- somewhat less prominent Tuesday night than on the recorded version -- and heavy dub bass, the tune hinted at what fellow Swedish act Ace of Base might sound like were it to stage an indie-pop comeback. Dare to dream.