The reasons I keep coming back to the Radio Dept. are the many memories I’ve built into their discography. Listening to every album, from Lesser Matters to Running Out of Love, becomes an intimate and introspective experience. The Swedish group headlined the Doug Fir to a sold out crowd. I noticed everyone watching, wide-eyed or eyes completely closed. It felt like we were all sharing an intimate experience together while swaying to the intoxicating layers of sound.
Part of that intrigue might be due to the gap of time since the Radio Dept. last performed in Portland. Six years ago, the Swedish dream pop band’s tour was to promote Clinging to a Scheme.
The Radio Dept., consisting of Johan Duncanson (vocals, guitar), Martin Larsson (bass, percussion) Daniel Tjäder (keyboards), introduced a fourth member, Maja Karlsson. Portland was first presented with “Sloboda Narodu”, translating to “Freedom to the People”. The entire set, lasting fourteen songs, included those from their latest LP, Lesser Matters, Pet Grief and Clinging to a Scheme.
The crowd demanded an encore, and the Radio Dept. came back with two more from Lesser Matters: “1995” and “Why Won’t You Talk About It?” Although they’ve never been known to give a lively performance, everything felt as it should through the full stage of talented musicians. Their songs transported us to a particular level of consciousness that only few experiences can achieve, like riding through quiet neighborhoods at sunrise.
Being directly involved in the last leg of a fast car chase, and winning.
Locking in eye contact with a stranger without feeling uneasy.
Making amends with a person you haven’t gotten along with for over a decade.
Writing down every word you would like to say.
Putting your finger through a loved one’s hair curl.