Sweden Is No Progressive Paradise, According to Radio Dept.

Sweden Is No Progressive Paradise, According to Radio Dept.
Photo: Vikstrom
Stockholm's the Radio Dept. have always been revered for their warm, gooey melodies and hazy, quixotic production, but underneath a lot of their music lies thin layers of biting political commentary. The duo have never been shy to use the Radio Dept. as a tactic to air certain grievances, and their first album in six years, Running Out of Love (out now on Labrador), Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg felt they couldn't write about anything but politics.
 
"Because of the political climate now, it's hard to write about anything else," Carlberg tells Exclaim! "It's affecting everything we do now — both professionally and personally."
 
In 2014, the Radio Dept. released a one-off single called "Death to Fascism," a reflection on Sweden's quiet transformation into a more authoritarian state. It was easily their most prominent statement to date, until now. With songs like "Swedish Guns" and "We Got Game," they hope to open up some eyes that still see the Scandinavian country as one of the most liberal places in the world.
 
"It's kind of new," Duncanson admits. "Sweden didn't use to look like that. Of course, we've been selling guns for a long time, which is a bad thing. But when it comes to other issues it was a progressive country for a long time, and I think that image of Sweden really stuck. In some ways it's still true, but right not we're in regression. People just don't know about that."
 
The decision to lean more towards a club-friendly album follows the duo's tradition of keeping their music unpredictable, not just for fans but also for themselves.
 
"Classic house music, early techno, and also contemporary dance music like Factory Floor was what we were into when we got into making this record," Duncanson says. "And of course, we're also into a lot of pop and dub and other stuff as well. We like to change things around every once in a while. We like to try out new things in genres where we don't really know the language. It's fun to reinvent yourself in a way, because it's still you but slightly different. It's nice to feel new."
 
Check out Radio Dept.'s 2017 tour dates here and have a listen to "Swedish Guns" below.