There’s been a definite surge of new bands I really dig which fall under the (questionably named) “chillwave” genre – Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, Tanlines, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi, etc. But listening to those bands has lead to my revisiting older tracks that elicit the same feeling and the realization that the dreamy, gauzy, warm setting sun sound we now call “chillwave” is by no means a new thing.
I was recently listening to “The Chauffer” off Duran Duran’s Rio album and was struck with how “chillwave” the last few minutes of that track are. And I was reminded of the time in college where, at an impromptu “trash the dorm room” listening party, someone switched out the Lungfish CD and put on the Cocteau Twins’ “Heaven or Las Vegas” and everyone just sat on the floor and listened in entranced silence.
Although I can readily admit that “chillwave” has a much more programmed, lock-stepped electronic vibe than “ambient-pop” or “shoegaze,” it’s still an offshoot of a very basic sonic idea. A sonic idea you could possibly trace back to “I’m Only Sleeping” by The Beatles or “Sunday Morning” by the Velvet Underground, which is that feeling of walking through a dream. It is that entranced silence, that hazy overwhelming quiet calm that washes over you like a sea breeze, like the sun is setting just for you. It’s the essence of the thing, and it’s just dream-pop.
Sweden’s The Radio Dept. sound just like that. Their albums go straight to the root of dream-pop. And they’re gorgeous because of it. It’s not some kind of genre exercise. It’s just how they sound. They don’t make bangers or party rockers, even when they’re obviously trying to. It’s pretty remarkable – they are just a conduit for this music from the dream world.
I first noticed them as their flawless track “Pulling Our Weight” played during a horse riding sequence in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” I tracked down their EPs and kept checking the Labrador website for release updates, but with the exception of a 2006 release “Pet Grief,” there was a period of silence and a 2-year delay on their supposedly finished album. Despite the drama, the release of their latest, “Clinging to a Scheme,” turned out to be well worth the wait. It is just an absolutely lovely album and has arrived just in time for your summer BBQs, road trips, and summer romance mix-tapes.
“Heaven’s On Fire,” “Memory Loss,” and/or “David” are destined to become the soundtrack to your waking dreams. For more info and free track and video downloads check them out at: http://theradiodept.com/