Release Date: Feb 23, 2010
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Little Dragon are placed in a bit of a conundrum with their fourth studio album Nabuma Rubberband. When the band first emerged in 2007 with their self-titled debut, the electronic music movement wasn’t yet filtered, funneled and repackaged as EDM. Nabuma finds them looking to expand by experimenting with various styles—from the bossa nova undertones of opener “Mirror” to the zippy electro-guitar licks of “Klapp Klapp.
Shout Out Louds are, on one hand, an easy band to love. After all, on their first album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, the Swedish quintet deftly blended classic pop with ‘80s new wave influences. It was an urgent, refreshing collection of songs, crafted by people who obviously know and love true pop music. And then, on their sophomore release, Our Ill Wills, the band got more lush, more lyrically downcast, and even more catchy.
Feel-good electro-pop from Sweden—can you believe it?! On its latest, Swedish pop quintet Shout Out Louds bring their uptempo, ’80s-nostalgic style to a collection of songs perfect for that jolt you need to kick off a long road trip. Lead singer Adam Olenius’ high-register vocals—which call to mind The Shins’ James Mercer—meld unexpectedly well with the pumping beats, making lovely use of background vocalist Bebban Stenborg, whose sweet-sounding responses on “Fall Hard” offset the forceful rhythms, and who harmonizes deftly with Olenius on the otherwise insubstantial “Throwing Stones. ” Not every song is upbeat (“Walls,” for example, is about taking too many pills; and the melodies are softer and more contemplative on “Candle Burned Out”), but the pulse remains undeniably energetic.
Say what you will about the laid-back demeanor of Sweden’s Shout Out Louds, but they know how to make a damn fine entrance. Their best song is still “The Comeback,” the first song from their first album. “1999,” the first track on their third album, Work, is also a delightful slice of post-2000 synth-rock, complete with more oohs and ahhs than you can hurl a Swedish meatball at (just like “Tonight I Have to Leave It,” the first song on 2007’s Our Ill Wills).
The third LP from Swedish pop masters Shout Out Louds is one catchy motherfucker. Work is packed to the gills with hook-y little love songs that would, at worst, make for excellent soundtrack fodder and, at best, sound right at home on a mix CD for that girl in your Creative Writing class whose always wearing the Cure t-shirts. Fans of Camera Obscura, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and being desperately infatuated with someone will find a lot to like on this record.And yet, it could have been so much more.The Shout Out Louds are capable of creating transcendent, essential music, yet they seem unable to capture their magic for more than a few fleeting minutes each time.
For these Stockholm-based indie vets, Work signals an embrace of music as a calling. Or, at least, a living. When advance mp3 "Walls" started showing up in bit.ly links late last year, its horns and jittery piano made Merge labelmates Spoon an easy first reference. A more revealing comparison, however, may be Lou Reed and John Cale's "Work", which reportedly gave Shout Out Louds' third album its title.
As one of the more modestly rewarding contemporary Swedish groups, Shout Out Louds have been on an upward trajectory, seemingly headed toward some transcendent pop moment. Their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, bore too much filler to reward returning listeners, but despite the album’s inconsistencies, its singles stood out strongly enough to cement the band as one to watch. On the other hand, 2007’s Our Ill Wills was a near-masterpiece.
On "1999," the opening track of Shout Out Louds' third album, singer/songwriter Adam Olenius sings that he "never felt so alive since 1999." That was two years before Shout Out Louds was formed in Stockholm, Sweden. A decade later, the band found itself in a different place. Literally. Olenius wrote most of Work in Australia, keyboardist/vocalist Bebban Stenborg spent her time between albums in Los Angeles, and Work was recorded in Seattle with Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Built to Spill), the band's first ever non-Swedish producer.
With freezing temperatures across the country and snow falling in places it usually doesn’t, we could all use a bit of sunshine. So leave it to Sweden’s Shout Out Louds to see us through the end of this bleak winter with their wonderfully bright and beautiful third album, Work. Though it’s a more stripped down affair than their last, Our Ill Wills, the focus is on concise rock songs that aim to propel the band into being the Phoenix of 2010.