By Al Kaufman
On their sophomore record, Animals in the Median, Radiation City has done the near impossible. They have made electronic music sound warm and soulful. The five-piece (three boys, two girls) indie band out of Portland, Oregon has created an album full of rhythmic pleasure that is perfect for easy summertime listening.
Summertime imagery seeps from the speakers throughout, but most notably on the happy “Foreign Bodies.” “So Long” offers up the enticing summery lyric “The salt in the air is a prayer you can taste.” Imagine the B-52s on downers singing “Love Shack.” It’s that kind of happy, mellow feel. Even “Zombies” is a breezy song about the dead.
Radiation City, with their lush sounds and harmonies, employ other styles in their music as well. “Food” incorporates some bossa nova rhythms. “Wash of Noise” is almost operatic, and “Buckminsterfullerene” sounds like the Beatles in their Maharishi Mahesh Yogi phase, with someone playing Asteroids in the background.
It doesn’t all work. The music sometimes collapses into so much atmospheric drivel, especially near the end, but for the most part this is nice summertime easy listening. It’s not the easy listening your parents used to hear, but it’s the kind that goes nicely with that special someone while drinking an apple martini on the deck and watching the fireflies.