Let’s take a trip back in time. Swedish band The Radio Dept. released their debut LP Lesser Matters all the way back in 2003. Rather than jumping straight into their sophomore release, the band put out two EPs instead–Pulling Our Weight and This Past Week–before giving us Pet Grief in 2006.
Both the EPs were originally released only on CD.
Fast forward to August 2019, and The Radio Dept. has reissued those two early EPs as a compilation LP on their new label Just So Records. The merged EPs have been dubbed I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band after a song off Pulling Our Weight.
(Side note: Lesser Matters has already received a reissue on the label, so we shouldn’t be surprised if other releases find their way back to the mix. Especially if they are long out of print or difficult to find.)
Pulling Our Weight EP
Pulling Our Weight was released sixteen years ago this month (November 2003), the same year The Radio Dept. gave us their debut LP, Lesser Matters. So, naturally, the EP could easily be an extension of that release, insofar as how it sounds.
Filled with dreamy, shoegaze-y undertones and assorted fuzzed-out backdrops, Pulling Our Weight featured several stunning highlights for having just five songs.
Right off the bat, the title track kicks things off on a high note. It has less fuzz and more dreaminess–a somewhat foreshadowing of what we’d get on Pet Grief.
However, the track that I found most intriguing was the second one. “We Climb the Wired Fences” might be a little more mellow, but the lead guitar melody carries it.
It ended on a high note as well, closing the EP–and in the case of the reissue, Side A–with wonderfully overly distorted guitars in “The City Limit”.
This Past Week EP
The Radio Dept. released This Past Week in January 2005. The band continued to strip away the heavy fuzz of their debut. It was a trait they carried onto Pet Grief a year later.
Songs like “Deliverance” off the second EP (or, on this record, the B-side) retained more traits of Lesser Matters than the rest of the extended play. You can hear it in the harder hitting percussion and the reverb-laden vocals.
The changes between the two EPs are incremental, subtle, minute, and precise. As they evolved, The Radio Dept. left behind some of the traditional shoegaze elements of their debut for more dream pop; even then, the two styles aren’t entirely dissimilar.
This is captured perfectly in album closer “Let Me Have This”:
Both EPs, and thus the full I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band LP, retain much of the emotive elements synonymous of the early work by The Radio Dept.
It’s introspective, a trait that pares well with both shoegaze and dream pop.
I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band
Sometime after their 2010 LP, Clinging to a Scheme, the band took another 6 years to release Running Out of Love. There were disagreements with their label, Labrador Records that caused them to limit what they put out (either by their label’s hand or by their own).
In fact, their song “Occupied” is about their court case with against Labrador.
They ultimately lost the case, released “Occupied”, and ultimately mended their relationship with the label. Still, the two parted ways after Running Out of Love, and I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band is an early glimpse at what the band has in store for the future.
It’s easy to see why The Radio Dept. reissued these two EPs as I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band. Outside of it being a natural next step to follow the rerelease of Lesser Matters, chronologically, these EPs hold within them something fierce. They are powerful and emotive, beautifully raw, and radiate in both melodic simplicity contrasted with unparalleled depth and complexity.
There’s a dichotomy that is undeniable, and while each stood well on its own, combined they are a powerhouse. Combined they are a masterpiece. Together, they are one of my favorite releases of the year, and I can’t stop listening to it!
If you’re a vinyl completist like myself, this compilation is a must-have. It’s a glimpse into the band’s early days, and viable addition among the ranks of four (so far) quality full-length releases.
You’ll be hard pressed to find the LP stateside, outside of major retailers like Amazon (hint: that’s where I got my copy). If you do find one on Ebay or Discogs, it’ll probably be overpriced. And even if you do snap up an overpriced copy, it’s worth every penny.