Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Heaven’s On Fire” by The Radio Dept. from the 2010 album Clinging to a Scheme on Labrador Records.
Back in 1995, Johan Duncanson and high school friend Elin Almered created The Radio Dept. with an ideal to make music, although it only lasted for a short period of time. The project was interrupted for three years, and brought back when Duncanson met guitarist Martin Larsson and keyboardist Daniel Tjäder; the three of them then decided to focus on a more alternative and psychedelic rock style that later turned into a mixture of shoegaze with indie and dream pop. The Radio Dept. has had ever since different members on and off, even though the three still remain.
The Swedish band became noticeable hence the release of singles “Against the Tide” and “Liebling”, and the EP Annie Laurie back in 2002, leading also to a contract with Labrador Records, to whom they have signed their three albums: Lesser Matters (2003), Pet Grief (2006) and Clinging to a Scheme (2010).
“Heaven’s on Fire,” the second single of their most recent album, features a very interesting variety of sounds as it assembles the band’s shoegaze influences with dream-, noise- and twee-pop, referring to the electronic dance music from the 1980’s, influenced by Pet Shop Boys, The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. The song uses slightly guitar effects but leans mostly in the spontaneous changes the synthesizers play, and Duncanson’s deep vocals. “Heaven’s On Fire” draws the eighties thematically as well as stylistically, suggesting in the lyrics youth’s liberation and emotional rebellion:
When I look at you, I reach for a piano wire
Fight to keep it together, but it’s pointless
One look at you, and now heaven’s on fire, heaven’s on fire
It seems like everyone is on your side
We’re outnumbered by those who take no pride
We’re constantly moving against the tide
Charlatans just out of reach and out of time
To find out more information and tour dates about The Radio Dept., although there are none set as of now for the U.S., visit their official website. The band has not released videos to promote their new album, but here is “Pulling Our Weight” from their 2003 self-titled EP: