Under Review

The Radio Dept.

Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 (Labrador)

Review By Luke Meat


We Made the Team
Let’s get one thing clear: I hate double albums. The White Album would have been a single masterpiece if The Beatles lost about nine of McCartney’s tunes, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk proved that coke did not belong anywhere near a recording studio and The Boss’ The River? Give me a fucking break. My music snob friends always try to bust me with the “What about anthologies and greatest hits?” argument. I always retaliate with the fact that Yes’ pedantically epic Yessongs exists. But I may have to eat those words if more collections like The Radio Dept.’s Passive Aggressive come out.

Since forming in 1996 as Radioavdelningen, The Radio Dept. have been making some of the best sounds the lo-fi shoegaze genre has to offer. After floating around their native Lund, Sweden for a few years, they were eventually making NME’s albums of the year lists and even landed a spot on Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette soundtrack. Passive Aggressive is a two-disc collection of singles, with disc one featuring the A-sides, and their flips on disc two. There are way too many songs to write about (one of the many reasons I hate double albums). Highlights include the Jesus and Mary Chain-influenced “Liebling,” the St. Etienne-referencing “Heaven’s on Fire, which opens with a hilarious spoken word snippet stolen from music documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke,” and their 4-track opus “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done.” The latter’s accompanying video is the downright cutest thing I have ever seen. There is something painstakingly honest about these songs without a shred of pretension. Optimistic but occasionally gloomy, fuzzy yet clear, their sound hearkens back to a simpler d.i.y. ethic, yet it sounds fresh for this day and age. Passive Aggressive is a fantastic retrospective double disc which may make me actually consider listening to The Clash’s London Calling in one sitting without complaining.