August 7, 2017

EP: Radula - Beyond Tears

Radula sounds as if they were born out of a dream.

In several episodes of the new season of Twin Peaks, nonfictional bands including Chromatics and Au Revoir Simone perform at the town's dive bar, The Bang Bang Bar. The chosen bands share an aesthetic influenced, directly or indirectly, by the show’s dark, dreamy, and skewed reality. Lynch didn't invent dream pop, but in the 25 years between seasons, there's been no shortage of bands who sound born out of a dream. On Beyond Tears, the debut EP from Stockholm's Radula, the trio introduce themselves as welcome members of this class.

Through a thick fog, Radula — Hillevi Duus (drums), Tove Möller (guitar), Ella Blixt (bass) — accept and walk right into life’s darkness. Willful ignorance is not in their skill set. The penultimate track “Never Scared,” assures us of that. The song starts with their family offering common safety tips for being out in the world like carrying pepper spray and never going out alone to which they respond, “Well, I'm always alone.” This quip, delivered deadpan, confirms they are exactly what the title states. You can't run from the darkness no matter how hard you try to hide. A shadowy figure appears at the end, in an unsettling change of perspective, to tell them it's going to hunt them down. And yet, they “will walk the street though [their] feet want to run.” Feet betraying the mind in unsavory situations happens, too, on the nervy, direct “Satisfaction.” This time the feet want to flee from feeling a lack of, well, satisfaction.

Elsewhere, mind and body agree on control. “Scarlett” is a slinking, Badlands-esque tale of a narrator persuading another to dabble in danger. Initially, the narrator seems meek, relying on the strength and confidence of their partner (“Will you follow if I ask you?...These things I will never do, will you…?"), but soon they reveal a person who just understands their weaknesses. At one point, they dance for their partner, noting that this person follows their moves. In this line, and the one mentioned earlier, the partner’s the one doing the following. The narrator doesn't pretend to have blind confidence, and blind confidence does not equate to helplessness. “I got fire to begin with,” the chorus soars. Duus, Möller, and Blixt have plenty of fire in their music, too. Embracing this specific, mood-heavy sound can be risky — mood doesn't always translate to engaging, repeat listens — but Radula avoids becoming a dream, flitting from memory when it's over. There’s big choruses, a rhythm section like an anchor and an infectious, pragmatic attitude. On their towering romantic plea for “Patience,” there’s a realistic assessment of the narrator’s own emotional state. Like the narrator’s hopeful romantic partner, Beyond Tears is a storm. And Radula’s going to wait it out with us.


Listen to Radula on soundcloud

Alex Stern is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, PA. He enjoys Hemingway Daiquiris, Frasier, and lox. You can follow him on Twitter @alyman007, but he won't be offended if you don't.