Swedish shoegaze rock band The Radio Dept. graced listeners with the release of its first single of 2018, “Your True Name.” It is the most delightful song that Spotify’s Discover Weekly has suggested I listen to this year.
The song’s confident opening chord progressions pleasantly contradict its speculative opening lyrics. Frontman Johan Ducanson croons “any time now, they will force a door any time, now any time.” Aside from being a sonically satisfying piece, the song is particularly monumental considering it is the first release from Ducanson and bandmate Martin Carlsberg’s new joint record label, “Just So!” This marks a shift in the band’s music distribution history after a 15-year relationship with labels Shelflife and Labrador Records. Luckily for us, the change in management hasn’t negatively impacted the quality of The Radio Dept.’s sound thus far.
“Your True Name” is a song about anticipation and arrival. Within it, Ducanson finds innovative ways to reiterate that “any time now, any time” the waiting will end and the elusive subject of the song will finally be realized. The timing of the song’s release initially made me think that this subject was the creative control that owning one’s own record label brings. After a second listen, it became clear that the song does not limit what that something may be. The wonder lies in the listener’s inability to identify exactly what the song’s speaker is waiting for. Carlsberg and Ducanson cleverly subdue their audience to figurative waiting by placing a lush 30-second instrumental right before Ducanson’s final contemplative lyrics.
Duncanson’s last words to an anonymous figure who is only ever addressed in the second person — ”But I love you and you do me no harm” — are the most intriguing part. In these final lyrics of the song, Ducanson undulates between characterizing the wait as “abusive” and “harmless.” There is something remarkably devastating about his struggle toward the conclusion, and the failure of “the thing” to arrive. But “Your True Name” is so swaddled in whimsy drum beats and confident opening chord progressions that we totally forget.
“Your True Name” is a lovely diddy that has the playful lyricism of the familiar Radio Dept. song “Heaven’s on Fire,” where a Thurston Moore interview sample suggests that the audience “destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture”. The contemplative “This Time Around” laments that “all the things we tried for [are] gone this time around.” “Your True Name” deserves multiples listens because it offers a fresh take on the Radio Dept.’s quintessential sonic tenderness that will hopefully be maintained in forthcoming releases.