Shout Out Louds
Feb 28, 2013 Web Exclusive
Shout Out Louds' third album Work was an exercise in businesslike austerity. (Read: nice, but nothing worth sending a company-wide memo about.) Their newest effort sees the Stockholm-based five-piece making up for lost time. Bigger, richer, and more fun than its predecessor, Optica drips with hyperactive lyrics, icy synths, and string arrangements that frontman Adam Olenius giddily described to Under the Radar as "like warm mayonnaise."
"Illusions" delivers on Olenius' promise. The glossy track features an over-dubbed, ABBA-like sheen—complete with multi-instrumentalist Bebban Stenborg and Olenius competing to determine who has the most hyper-sincere slur. (Answer: Olenius—but only by a hair on Benny Andersson's chin.)
Ode to dying (melting?) love "Blue Ice" dials back the caffeine level, replacing it with an equally slick, 1980s-infused gloom that slowly simmers rather than falls flat. It's one of the few moments of restraint in the sea of big, bigger, biggest musical statements, underscoring Shout Out Louds' increasingly sophisticated writing skills.
The more things change musically, the more they remain the same thematically. As with previous albums, Olenius and the gang find themselves concerned with the three main facets in life: love, nostalgia, and where to hide when the first two are getting you down. A kissing cousin to Our Ill Wills' "Impossible," "Chasing the Sinking Sun" stages what could have come across as hopeless navel-gazing (sample lyric: "We were here, that I know/ We lost our minds long ago") against an uplifting, percussive backdrop. "14th of July" takes the construct to an even more gut-wrenching conclusion—the knowledge that obtaining the idealized is an ephemeral pursuit at best. Again the band shows off their remarkable skill at juxtaposition, Olenius asking "What's the point of a sun that never sets if I can't forget this isn't real?" faced with an instrumental that never slows down long enough to deliver the (presumably sobering) answer. No need—they've already expanded their wildest dreams into an enduring career.
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 7/10