The Radio Dept. – Passive Agressive: Singles 2002-2010

Hailing from Sweden, this trio has been around in varying ways since 1995, although things took off for them in 2001.

They have the distinction of being predecessors of both sides of the psych-pop resurgence, having released albums both with distorted guitars and fuzzed-out synths. Both sides of the sound are shown in “Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010,” which collects all of the band’s singles on one disc, plus B-sides on another disc.

Despite the difference in methodology, the sounds are remarkably similar, making for a solid first disc. The first five tracks have distorted guitars competing with the heavily reverbed vocals for attention, creating an odd but memorable tension in the energetic songs. “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done” is the standout among these tracks, although the acoustic “Annie Laurie” is haunting and beautiful as well.

“This Past Week” marks the transition into synth-heavy dream pop, and it’s clear that it took a while for them to make the full adjustment. While the sounds are similar, the songs in the middle of the disc don’t have as high a quality as the previous tunes. The last three tunes, however, pick up the quality. “Heaven’s on Fire,” “Never Follow Suit” and “The New Improved Hypocrisy” are all excellent tracks melodically and instrumentally; they will get stuck in your head.

The second disc throws in sounds from all three periods of their development. Some of the tracks are barely a minute long; none really stand out as amazing singles, although “Messy Enough” has a solid beat and good melodies. That is, however, what you get with a bunch of B-sides. The fact that none of them are oppressively bad is a bonus! They fit in nicely on the collection, if you were listening to it as a whole, but I wouldn’t spend a bunch of time with it on its own.

If you’re all up in the chillwave or dream-pop resurgence (or both), this is an excellent primer on a band that was doing it long before 2009. You’ll enjoy pretty much every song here, and some of them, you’ll love.  —Stephen Carradini

Stephen Carradini

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