radio 4 band

It’s difficult to believe now, but a few years ago dance music was fairly cool. Every weekend, thousands of people snorted their powders, swallowed their pills, gargled their drinks, ignored the fact the scene was – in fact, still is, it’s just that no-one cares anymore – ruled by a tiny cabal of crucifyingly dull, self-serving careerists (Oakey, Tongy, Coxy, Julesy etc) and just let themselves be swept away by the music.

However, there’s really only so many times the human mind can have precisely the same experience in the same place listening to the same music before even top-grade ecstasy isn’t enough to kill that nagging feeling you’re being had on a grand fucking scale.

Can you imagine anything more desperate than a night trapped in, say, Ministry of Sound listening to some obese twat spin anonymous house music to a room full of teeth-grinding Topshop dummies? No, us neither, which is precisely why Radio 4, New York’s premier death disco stylists, are as welcome as a lungful of air at the bottom of the Pacific ocean.

For a kick-off, Radio 4 draw on some trully unusual influences to colour their relentless grooves on their third and most accomplished album. Like The Rapture and, oddly, Franz Ferdinand, they’ve obviously been at the Gang Of Four and early Cure records, but it’s Killing Joke’s demonic, muscle-funk tang that’s all over ‘Party Crashers‘. ‘Transmission‘ has a heroic chorus that is pure, primetime U2 and ‘(Give Me All Your) Money’ rides comfortably on pumped-up Underworld dynamics.

Secondly, Radio 4 aren’t afraid to experiment. ‘Dismiss The Sound‘ is, in its grinding, synth-heavy bassline and swishing guitar strokes, as disco as fuck, but it still manager to squeeze in impenetrable vocal yowling and some horrorcore FX, while ‘Absolute Affirmation‘ slings a jet-black hammock between New Order and The Jesus And Mary Chain and refuses to take its boots off as it swings.

Thirdly, they sound like they actually mean it. There’s a po-faced seriousness to Radio 4 that’s endlessly appealing – they still care enough about dance music to want to save it, make it more than the irrelevant soundtrack to a night on the lash. Good luck, lads. You’re going to need it.

© Rob Fitzpatrick @ NME mag September 11, 2004

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