The New Song and Dance
In these cruelly postmodern times, records like Radio 4’s debut, The New Song and Dance, done with a straight face — much less, without a trace of (post-)irony — are a rare item indeed. Hearkening back to the School of Minimalism’s graduating class of 1979 (The Cure, Gang of Four, Wire), with their punk-informed rock/pop-isms and all, Radio 4 compact skeletal structures and ornery melodies into 3-minute anti-anthems, done with a subtly sly and po-faced panache. The key to The New Song and Dance‘s efficacy is the trio’s acute use of space, as in the distance between chord after clean, reverbed chord, between resigned angst and slightly less-resigned angst, between an opaque lyric and an opaque texture. To further supplant themselves from an era where most underground music serves as a grad-school thesis on the situationist deception of hipsters, Radio 4 go for an angular, bubbly funk ala another trio of four on “Get Set to Fall Out” and “We Must Be Sure.” A quiet triumph on all accounts, only the Starlite Desperation could make such a stripped-down sound look even more like royal finery.
Gern Blandsten, P.O. Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661; http://www.gernblandsten.com