I was admittedly smitten upon first hearing Radium 88 when I received their disc, Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth, a few years back. Then they seemed to drop off the radar. I waited for their return. Eagerly. So when I received Escaping Tomorrow, their newest release, I (again, admittedly) gave a little hooray. But I find myself in an odd position. Escaping Tomorrow sounds and feels like a near-seamless continuation of Only Science… to the point where part of me is having a wonderful time re-encountering Radium 88’s absolutely engaging blend of electronica, shoegaze, and ambient, while the other part was sort of hoping they’d show me something new. This, let it be noted, has in no way stopped me from playing and replaying Escaping Tomorrow. This is Radium 88’s signature sound, a template they’re happy to hold onto, and it’s so infectious it’s hard to fault them. I get caught in Tim Thwaites’ burbling, near-electro-pop rhythms and simple four-count arpeggios, and something giddy happens inside me the moment I hear Jema Davies’ ever-so-soft voice, the perfect mix of angel and Anglican choirboy packing an emotional, you-must-pay-attention punch. She sings with a patient cadence, an almost boxy structure that gracefully counters Thwaites’ rolling sounds. The Radium 88 sound is further padded out and deepened by vocals and violin from Clare Hunt (her strings coming through strong and beautiful on “The Angel of Final Warning”), guitar from Matt Clare (his spy-movie-cool playing makes “The Man Who Was Not Himself” shine), coronet from Mike Clifford (again, check him out on “Angel…”) and clarinet from Joe Thwaites. It’s a unique sound that has yet to wear out its welcome and, admittedly yet again, was very much worth the wait. Expect lots of repeat play for Escaping Tomorrow.
Available from CD Baby.