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Shout Out Louds - Fall Hard
Mar 11, 2010
Total plays:
44 times
Why do we like this?
There must be something in the crisp air over in Nordic Europe, because Sweden keeps producing great indie pop/rock music (think: Peter Bjorn and John, Jens Lekman, The Concretes, I'm From Barcelona and José González are all from Sweden!). And now, with the Shout Out Louds' latest album, Sweden has one more chance to prove itself. But are the Shout Out Louds one of Sweden's greatest?

Though I fell hard for their Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (2005) and Our Ill Wills (2007) releases, this third album by Shout Out Louds takes a decidedly marked twist from its predecessors. In particular, there was always a bit of darkness to lead singers Adam Olenius' voice in the earlier albums; he had grit that carried them through.

The new album "Work" starts off promising with a Mates of State-esque undertone to "1999" peaking my curiosity, but thereafter, it's hit or miss. The songs vary from surf rock to dream pop, with the occasional pure indie rock song. And yet, the overall sound is all a little fuzzy. Gone are the days with full bands, and great catchy rock tunes. These guys used to be one of my favorite bands to run to -- their music would keep me going. This new sound, however, would most definitely not keep the amp up. Perhaps it's because they're drawing more on a stripped down dark 80's new wave/post-punk sound.

To be fair, one of Shout Out Louds most loved hits was "Impossible" from "Our Ill Wills". Therein lies the problem: "Impossible" was never one of my favorites, and their new direction draws on the success of that song. For fans of the hit single, "Work" might still create a special place in your heart.

For fans of "Please Please Please" or "Hurry Up Let's Go," the new album features few of those thumping, indie rock anthems. The first single to be released from "Work", "Walls" is one the few standout sounds-like-old-them songs. And with "Walls", the driving sound of rock definitely delivers, that is, if you wait until half-way through the song for the tune to pick up. For "Walls" alone, it's all worth the wait.

Overall, Shout Out Louds are less sparky, as if maturity has made this band boring. There's a lot of brooding under all of these songs, and it all comes as a little musically unexpected. Songs like "Play the Game" and "Moon" are just too mellow for what Shout Out Louds can be. (On "Moon," why wait until almost 3 minutes into the song to pull those strings out?). "Too Late Too Slow" is just that: it's too slow and it lacks hooks. Sure, every band wants to aim for diversity of sound, but here, there's a lack of continuity; there are a few good songs, and the rest just don't stand on their own.

I've been crawling the web trying to find other reviewers who agree with me, and I'm drawing a blank. While most reviewers are hesitant to call this a 2010 great, most still seem to give "Work" a favorable review. I want to like this new album. And the more I listen to it, the more I am convincing myself that this is good stuff. Yet the reality is that it's just plain hit or miss, and if you want us to love it, we need to love all [or most] of it.

"Show Me Something New" is the one song that almost nails it; there's a nod to their past, with a wink to the future. Too bad there's not more of that sound.
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