Stealing Of A Nation
Listening to Radio 4’s newest, Stealing Of A Nation, is kind of like the disappointment of going on a date with your hot-ass unique boyfriend of three years only to discover that he has suddenly developed a bland, slick, dance-pop ethic. And somebody’s given him a No Bush pin. Anybody can put a pin on, Radio 4. If any of you have ever been inside a Forever 21 clothing store for ridiculously small teenage girls, you probably know what I’m talking about when I say Stealing Of A Nation would fit right in on the soundtrack. It would even be called “edgy,” maybe by some well-meaning young shoppers. What Radio 4 tries so hard to push across maybe would have fit in perfectly (although being nothing new) during the time of its release in September 2004. Now, in May, it just seems tired and obvious; we get it. Bush sucks, being in Iraq sucks, the economy sucks. Hey, at least we can dance in a lackluster fashion to this empty dance music.
Honestly, I really don’t mind political statements. I think it’s great to express yourself. But when you center an entire album around political themes, make it your “groundbreaking concept,” and completely ignore the music that you’ve been creating so well up to this point, it just seems like a sell-out. It’s almost like the guys at Astralwerks Records were all, “Being political is so hot right now. Please discard the greatness of your previous album, Gotham!, and go all out anti-politics. We’re trying to make our image more ‘liberal and approachable.'”
Anyway, I just wanted to make it very clear that if you were expecting the rambunctious, jittery, energetic indie rock of Gotham!, you are not going to get too much of that. The last song, ironically titled “Coming Up Empty,” explains a lot of Stealing the Nation. So does the song before it, “Dismiss the Sound.” I’m trying, Radio 4! I am! All bashing aside, Radio 4 is a great band. I’m not just saying this because I’m trying to suck up because I just said their latest thing crashed and burned. As their metaphorical girlfriend (and fan/critic), I am just disappointed. I kept listening to the album over and over, crossing my fingers before each play, eyes squinted and face towards the sky, silently begging for it to be better. A little more Gang of Four and a little less Depeche Mode would have probably helped them out, in addition to not using their producer, Max Heyes. Come back, guys. Bring the DFA producers with you. We’ll go on one big date. You can wear your anti-Bush pin, but leave the boring behind.
Radio 4 will appear May 11 and 12 at the Metro in Chicago. The headliner for both shows is none other than the legendary Gang Of Four, reunited. Tickets are $23.50.