Swedish synth-pop duo, The Radio Dept. recently broke a seven year hiatus by kicking off their North American tour at Union Transfer, to promote their new album, Running Out of Love. Though Johan Duncansson’s lyrics are can be quietly disguised underneath electro-dance beats, a closer look shows that this album is incredibly politically-charged. Similar to the United States’ current political climate, Sweden is facing a growing rise in alt-right movements; and The Radio Dept. is using their powerful synth beats to combat it.
This electrifying power was definitely felt during their performance at Union Transfer. The band seemed to be a bit live-show-shy, and was noted in between songs when Duncansson would quietly whisper bits of gratitude and apologies toward the crowd—at one point even sheepishly stating: “I’m sorry, this is our first show on the tour.” This did not affect the night’s performance, however, which was amplified by a dark, moody atmosphere juxtaposed with hypnotic, flashing stage lights. The most notable tracks of the night were “Swedish Guns” which vehemently opposes Sweden’s growing gun industry, and my personal favorite of the album, “Occupied,” both of which transformed the historical venue into a pulsing house music club.
The duo returned for a surprisingly brief encore to perform the stripped back, throwback track, “1995.” The synth-less piece was a perfect contrast from the rest of the set—swapping out the big, atmospheric sound for two guitars. Though the song came with a few slight slip-ups, Duncansson and Larsson humbly took it with a laugh, with Duncansson’s parting words being: “That was very sloppy, but thank you.”
Listen to their track “Occupied” from Running Out of Love here.